Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chicken Herbal Soup 药材鸡汤

Let’s have a bowl of nourishing tonic soup

Chinese herbal soup is good for replenishing certain nutrients needed by our bodies; stimulating appetite and especially good for women either during pregnancy or post delivery. For post delivery, one of the key herbs to be added in is Dang Gui (当归), a common ingredient used during confinement period to speed up after birth recovery.
However, this nourishing tonic soup is not restricted to women only but it is also good as a supplement source of nutrients and energy in addition to boosting the immune system.  The following simple chicken herbal soup Auntie Lan used to prepare for us does not include Dang Gui. The herbs she used were general purposed Chinese chicken herbal soup combination for daily consumption. Apologies again for not giving the exact measurement of the ingredients used, however the portion I estimated she used for following was about: 1:0.5:0.5:0.25:0.25:0.125:0.125

Nowadays you can easily find this pre-packaged dry herbal soup ingredients at any Asian Grocery shop. All you need to do is just to add in water to cook and salt to taste. For working moms, even this may still be too much a hassle. Here’s a way to further make life easier. Read on.
The secret is to have a 24 hour 24 hour timer timer switch device  and a slow cooker (Crock-Pot).  Instead of cooking over stove and watching over the heat, all you need to do is to plug the slow cooker to the timer, add in boiling water to slow cooker, dump in the packaged herbals and chicken (you can wash chicken a night before) and set the timer on to cook it at high heat for 1.5 hours before you leave your house in the morning. With the timer, you can also set to warm the soup again by setting the timer to automatically switch on half an hour before you come back from work.
I bet when you come back from work, as soon as you open the door you will be overwhelmed by the nice strong tonic aroma coming from your kitchen! What you need to do next is to have another 30 minutes for you to cook the rice and you and your family will get to enjoy a healthy chicken herbal soup dinner. Now who said working moms do not have time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for her family?  J
Chicken Herbal Soup 药材鸡汤
I extracted explanation of the herbs and medical effects from this site Complementary and Alternative Healing University:
Herbs Name/药材
Medical Functions/功效
red dates (Chinese dates or red jujube) 红枣

Treats weakness, shortness of breath, lassitude, lack of appetite, loose stools due to spleen deficient.
qi zi (Wolfberries or goji berries) 枸杞子
Nourishes and tonifies the liver and kidney, helps eyesight, improves blurred vision, alleviates sore back, strengthens the leg and stomach, improves circulation, boosts immune function, promotes longevity.
dang shen (Codonopsis Root) 党参

Corrects blood deficiency, invigorates Qi (lack of appetite, fatigue, thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, polapse of uterus, stomach, rectum due to spleen deficient), improves digestive system.

yu zhu (Rhizoma Polygonati Odorati) 玉竹

Nourishes Yin, promotes the production of body fluids and relieves dryness syndrome.
huai shan (Dioscoreae Oppositae) 淮山

Invigorates Qi, nourishes Yin, controls spermatorrhea and reduces urination.

bǎi hé (Lily Bulb)百合
sweet and cooling in properties. The herb is also associated to the lung and heart meridians and help to relieve coughs, dry throats, clear heat, and moisten the lung. Dried lily bulb is also used as an herb to calm the spirit, promote restful sleep, and lessen irritability.
xing ren(Semen pruni armeniacae)
for arresting coughing and asthma, expelling phlegm, help bowel movements.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Madeira cake 马德拉蛋糕

Classic English Cake

When I found out our newly recruited HR manager was going to celebrate her birthday on Sunday, 29th April, I decided to make her a birthday cake to share it in our Friday morning tea meeting in conjunction with the welcoming of her joining the company.

However, given the short notice and a week day, I didn’t have much time to prepare in the evening after work.  Eventually I chose to make a simple and easy cake. I was pleased Ray offered a helping hand that night and we had a fun bonding time in making the cake together. 
My handsome kitchen helper
Flipping through recipes, I came across this lemony and buttery Madeira cake. Following the Victoria Sandwich I made earlier, this was another classic and simple to make English sponge cake. This cake was traditionally consumed with a glass of Madeira wine, where the name of the cake originated from. Nowadays it is good to go with a cup of tea too.

This cake took longer baking time than usual, about an hour at lower temperature of 160 degree Celsius. Initially, when I saw the cake with cracked surface, I thought it was yet another failed project.
The next morning, I did some google search and was relieved to learn that it was normal for Madeira cake to have peaks and crack on the surface.  I found the cake texture to be very light and a bit dry. It is no wonder the English like it to go with Wine.

I was wondering if I should increase the portion of butter or reduce the baking time for my next trial.
Madeira Cake
I was glad the birthday girl Sandee liked the cake; we had a small celebration at her office before sharing with the rest of the managers in our morning tea meeting.
Happy birthday Sandee


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