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Archive for October 13, 2017

RECIPE: Hong Kong Style Egg Tarts

Hong Kong Egg Tarts

Hong Kong Egg Tarts
Fragrant and warm from the oven: Who can resist? (Photos #1 and #2 courtesy My Bare Cupboard, which has a slightly different recipe).

Natural Hens' Eggs Colors

[3] Where would dessert be without the incredible, edible egg? (Photo courtesy The Egg Farm.)

Check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary.

See the different types of custard in our Custard Glossary.

 

World Egg Day was established in 1996, and is celebrated on the second Friday in October.

Since the dawn of the hunter-gatherer, eggs have played a major role in feeding mankind around the globe. They one of nature’s highest quality, and most affordable, sources of protein.

Since this is a global celebration, we’re featuring one of our favorite global recipes with eggs.

No, it’s not egg drop soup (we published an egg drop soup recipe last year). It’s a favorite Cantonese dessert made with eggs: Hong Kong egg tarts.

Walking around the streets of Hong Kong or any Chinatown elsewhere, you’ll see these popular tartlets* through the windows of bakeries.

Whenever we hit New York City’s Chinatown for a dim sum brunch, we look forward to a dessert of Hong Kong Egg Tarts. We like them so much, we buy extras to take home.
 
 
THE HISTORY: WHAT ARE HONG KONG EGG TARTS?

Egg tart, dan tat in Cantonese, is sweet tart pastry crust filled with egg custard. It’s essentially fusion food, since custard was created in northern European dairying countries.

Hong Kong egg tarts (also called Chinese egg tarts, but that’s too nonspecific a term given the variety of regional cuisines), are related to Portuguese egg tarts.

The concept arrived in Hong Kong during the 1940s—from, some sources believe, the neighboring island of Macau, which had been colonized by the Portuguese.

According to more likely sources, the egg tart first appeared in Guangzhou (Canton) in the 1920s [source].

There, the local chefs, inspired by western fruit tarts, filled tart pastry with egg custard. As butter was very costly, they used lard crusts instead of making puff pastry.

At the time, there was tough competition between department stores in Guangzhou. To attract customers, the chef of each department store would invent a new dim sum or dessert weekly; hence the initiative that produced these first Chinese egg tarts.

A few decades later, in the 1940s and 1950s, many chefs migrated to Hong Kong and brought the recipe with them.

Portuguese egg tarts—pasteis de nata—scents the custard with cinnamon, in a puff pastry crust. Here’s a recipe.

Both versions taste best when freshly baked and still warmed. Even when we warm the take-out tarts we bring home from Chinatown, they’re a shade less heavenly than those we eat on the spot.

Yet, they’re so easy to make that they can be whipped up to serve regularly at brunch, or with tea and coffee breaks.

In fact, we’re making them both on Saturday and Sunday to serve at brunch. We’ll double the recipe but only cook half on each day.

If you have a source for very good tart or tartlet shells, you can substitute them. The texture isn’t “Hong Kong,” but the overall taste is good.

You can buy Clearbrook Farms’ tartlet and mini-tart shells at Sur La Table, Walmart and elsewhere. We always keep a few boxes in the pantry. You can fill them with berries, pudding, cream cheese and preserves, ice cream, etc. when you need a quick dessert or teatime treat.

 
RECIPE: HONG KONG EGG TARTS

This recipe was sent to us by The Incredible Egg (the American Egg Board), via All Recipes.
 
Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 9 eggs, beaten
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the confectioners’ sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Blend in the butter with a fork, until the mixture comprises small crumbs.

    2. STIR in the egg and vanilla until the mixture forms a dough. The texture should be slightly moist. Add more butter if the dough is too dry, or add more flour if the dough seems greasy.

    3. SHAPE the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. Press the balls into fluted tartlet molds to cover the bottom, extending the dough higher than the sides of the molds. Use this technique to place the dough into one tart mold, then tamp it down with an empty mold.

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F.

    5. COMBINE the white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.

    6. STRAIN the eggs through a sieve, and whisk into the sugar mixture. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Strain the filling through a sieve, and fill the tart shells.
    Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown, and the filling is puffed up a little bit.
     
     
    *TARTS VS. TARTLETS

    To be completely accurate:

  • “Tart” refers to a full-size, multi-portion tart.
  • Individual-size size tarts are called tartlets.
  • Bite-size versions are mini tarts.
  •  
      

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    RESTAURANT: Oscar Wilde Gastropub In New York City

    Oscar Wilde, the gastropub, has the longest continuous bar in New York City, at 118.5 feet.

    There’s a cocktail and spirits list almost as long—such that if we lived or worked in the neighborhood, we’d be tempted to head to the bar every day after work and work through the list.

    The restaurant celebrates the acclaimed Irish writer (1854-1900).

    The venue should become a tourist destination for literati. If you don’t foresee a trip to Dublin to see the stunning Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture in Merrion Square in Dublin, then Oscar Wilde restaurant in New York City is an opportunity to capture yourself with bronze Oscar Wildes.

    There are two photo ops with Oscar: one inside with a standing bronze (photo #1), the other outside, seated on a bench (photo #4).

    These bronze Oscars are even better photo ops than Real Oscar’s tombstone, a popular destination in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. It is beautiful piece of modern sculpture, but not an image of Wilde (and now, it’s surrounded by a glass wall to keep [more] people from further defacing the monument with lipstick kisses).

    But back to the gastropub Oscar Wilde: The interior is a showplace. One expects to see a motion picture or period televisions series in production.

    An almost incalculable number of artifacts have been gathered—clocks, marble mantles, fireplaces, carved columns, candelabra, chandeliers, lamps, statuary, paintings, prints, newspaper holders, painted/stained glass, objects d’art. They cover almost every inch of wall space.

    You can photos of the rooms here..

    The eclectic furnishings look like they may have been a part of Wilde’s milieu—and many could have been, gathered throughout the U.K. and Paris. Others come from points around the globe. The Victorian-style wallpaper was handmade in Mexico, some hand-carved marble is from Vietnam.

    An Irish Writers Wall pays homage to the other greats: Beckett, Joyce, Shaw, Yeats, etc.
     
     
    DINING AT OSCAR WILDE

    While you may have stumbled back into Victorian England visually, don’t expect a corresponding bill of fare.

    Oscar Wilde’s food menu does feature traditional dishes such as cottage pie, striped bass, moules frites and Skellig cheddar from Ireland (on a grilled cheese sandwich).

    But patrons are more likely to order contemporary items that Wilde never envisioned:

  • Crispy cauliflower Buffalo wings
  • Fried tomato BLT
  • Kale Caesar salad
  • Salt and pepper squid
  • Wilde burger with chili aïoli
  •  
    There’s something for everyone.

     

    Oscar Wilde Statue NYC
    [1] Have a drink with Oscar: a great selfie opportunity (all photos courtesy Oscar Wilde restaurant).

    Cocktails Oscar Wilde NYC
    [2] Specialty cocktail menus include both Victorian and Prohibition favorites.

    Broccomole

    [3] Broccomole: broccoli purée mixed with guacamole. A hit!

     
    We tried just a few items; each was excellent. New to us was broccomole—a relatively new creation you can find online, but we’d not previously seen on a menu.

    Broccoli is puréed into guacamole, served with taro chips: a great marriage of ingredients.

    Oscar Wilde is located at 45 West 27th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.

    It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., 7 days a week. There’s a private events room. Phone: 212.213.3066.
     
     
    Oscar Wilde Restaurant NYC
     
    [4] Have a drink with Oscar, at Oscar Wilde’s in New York City. Irony: In 1919, following the Volstead Act, the building became Prohibition Enforcement Headquarters. It was later discovered—purportedly—that the federal agents’ phones were bugged by the mob.

      

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