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Archive for Chinese/Lunar New Year

RECIPE: Pork & Apricot Fried Rice

If you’re a fan of pork fried rice, how about whipping up a batch of Pork and Apricot Fried Rice for the Chinese New Year?

This recipe is from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann, who serves it as a light lunch with just add a salad. You can play with the recipe and substitute other grains.

You can roast a pork loin just for this recipe, or roast one for dinner the day before and make enough extra to use in the fried rice.

Ingredients For 6 Servings
For The Rice

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    For The Pork

  • 1½ tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into ¼-inch chunks
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
  • Garnish: ¼ cup pistachios, toasted (substitute chopped or sliced

    Pork Apricot Fried Rice

    Dried Apricots

    Top: Pork and Apricot Fried Rice from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann. Bottom: Dried apricots for the pork fried rice. Photo by Olha Afanasieva | IST. Have extra apricots? They’re one of our favorite snacks. You can turn them into candy by dipping them halfway in melted chocolate. Set them on wax paper until they dry.


    1. MAKE the rice: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice looks chalky, about 2 minutes. Add the pineapple juice, water, apricots and salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid is below the surface of the rice and tunnels form in the rice. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

    2. COOK the pork: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the pork with the salt and pepper. In batches, add the pork chunks to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

    3. ADD the garlic, ¼ cup of cilantro, celery, scallions, soy sauce, sherry vinegar and ginger to the skillet. Stir-fry until the celery is tender, about 3 minutes.

    4. RETURN the pork to the skillet. Add the rice and stir-fry until well mixed, 3 to 5 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with the pistachios and the remaining 1/4 cup of cilantro and serve hot.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Bibimbap, A Korean Classic For The Lunar New Year

    We love bibimbap (bee-bim-BOP), a signature Korean dish. It’s a variation of our currently trending rice bowl. The word literally means “mixed rice”—rice mixed with several other ingredients.

    We’ve written about bibimbap previously, but for the eve of the lunar new year (this year, it’s Sunday, February 7th), it’s especially appropriate. It’s what Koreans traditionally eat on their new year’s eve.

    It also happens to be Super Bowl Sunday; if your friends are foodies, this is a good dish for a crowd.

    A bowl of warm white rice is topped with seasoned vegetables*; sliced beef, chicken or seafood; and a raw or fried egg. The yolk of the egg (or the entire raw egg) binds the ingredients when they are mixed together.

    Chile paste, fermented soybean paste or soy sauce are served as condiments. After the ingredients are blended each individual diner, condiments added at the table.

    For visual appeal, the vegetables are often placed so that adjacent colors complement each other.

    The recipe below, from Good Eggs, requires 15 minutes of active time, and a total of 35 minutes. It doesn’t require you to be handy with a knife: Instead of thin slices of beef, you use ground beef.

    If you like bibimbap as much as we do, you can experiment with other grains. Quinoa bibimbap with kale, anyone?


    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 2 cups of sushi rice
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons of mirin (rice wine†)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, plus a little more for seasoning
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 4 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch radishes, shaved thinly
  • 1 bunch of scallions, both green and white portions, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Raw or fried egg for each serving
  • Optional: other vegetables as desired



    Top: Bibimbap served with a raw egg at Kristalbelli | NYC. Bottom photo: The ingredients mixed together. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

  • Optional: chili paste/red pepper paste (gochujang), sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds
  • ____________________________________
    *Commonly vegetables used include bean sprouts, julienned cucumber, julienned or shredded daikon (Japanese radish), julienned zucchini, nori (dried seaweed), shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms or whole enoki mushrooms, and spinach. Diced tofu, either uncooked or cooked, can be added.

    †Mirin and saké are both called “rice wine.” Both are fermented from rice; mirin has a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content (as an analogy, thing of sweet and dry vermouths. If you have saké but no mirin, make a substitute by adding a half teaspoon of sugar to the saké, and warm it slowly to dissolve the sugar.



    Dolsot bibimbap, bibimbap served in a very
    hot stone bowl (our favorite way to enjoy
    bibimbap at restaurants). Photo courtesy



    1. RINSE the rice a few times in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Add the rice to a pot and cover with water. Let it soak for 20 minutes, then strain it again. Add the rice back to the pot and add 3 cups of water. Bring the rice and water to a boil, uncovered. When the water reaches a rolling boil…

    2. TURN the flame to low, cover the pot and let the rice simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it steam for 10 minutes with the cover on. After 10 minutes, fluff the rice with a fork: It’s ready. While the rice cooks

    3. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the meat and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down and add the soy sauce and mirin, and stir. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the heat.

    4. SERVE: Spoon some rice into a bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds, a splash of mirin and a little bit of soy sauce. Top with beef, cilantro, scallions, radishes, cilantro and a spoonful of kimchi.



    Bibimbap was traditionally eaten on the eve of the lunar new year, to enable households to use up all of their leftovers before the start of the new year. All of the leftovers were put in a bowl of rice and mixed together.

    Use up your leftovers, or buy fresh ingredients. Or plan a party: Like paella and other rice main dishes, bibimbap is a good dish for a crowd.

    Of course, bibimbap can be made from scratch with chosen ingredients. Each region and each cook has a preferred mix of ingredients.

    At Korean restaurants you can get dolsot bibimbap (stone pot bibimbap), served in a stone bowl so hot that the ingredients sizzle. The raw egg cooks as soon as it’s mixed in.

    Before the rice is placed in the bowl, the bottom can be coated with sesame oil, which makes the bottom of the rice cook to a crispy state, like the soccorat at the bottom of the paella pan.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Really Good Chinese Egg Rolls

    Egg Rolls

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/egg rolls redstixs 230r

    Top: Egg rolls with BBQ pork and sweet and
    hot chili dipping sauce, from the National
    Pork Board. They’re baked, not fried (recipe).
    Bottom: Egg rolls from Red Stix | NYC, served
    with a mix of rice vinegar and soy sauce.


    For the Chinese New Year, why not make your own egg rolls? Serve them as an appetizer, or as a snack with a cold beer.


    Like Chinese chicken salad, crab wontons, duck sauce, fortune cookies, General Tso’s chicken and sweet and sour pork—not to mention the pu pu platter—the egg roll is a Chinese-American invention. Food historians believe it was first created in New York City in the early 1930s.

    But over time, what was initially a richly layered roll with a mix of bamboo shoots, roast pork, scallions, shrimp and water chestnuts evolved into a bland cabbage roll—a stuffing of shredded cabbage, flecked with bits of pork and carrot. [Source]

    If you’d like to go back to the golden age of egg rolls, make your own! If you don’t like to deep fat fry, you can bake them.

    This recipe came to us via, from Chef Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook.

    Ingredients For 12 Pieces

  • 12 egg roll wrappers
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • ¾ pound ground pork, chicken or beef
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 12 ounces green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Cooking oil for frying
    Don’t forget the condiments: hot mustard, jalapeño pepper jelly, plum sauce, ponzu sauce, sweet and sour sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce (sweet and hot) or just plain soy sauce. We like to serve two different options: Colman’s prepared mustard (a better version of “Chinese mustard”) and Thai sweet chili sauce (you can buy it or make your own).

    You can add just about anything to an egg roll, as long as it’s finely chopped and well drained (don’t add moisture).

  • There are fusion egg rolls that include pastrami (a Reuben egg roll) and corned beef and cabbage egg roll.
  • The menu at Rhode Island’s Egg Roll Cafe features the classic egg roll plus these flavors: Bacon-Egg-Cheese, Cheeseburger, Crab Rangoon, Fajita, Ham-Egg-Cheese, Pizza, Shrimp, Spinach & Feta, Steak & Cheese and Taco, among others.
  • Check out this recipe, featured in the Merced [California] Sun Star, which includes classic ingredients plus peanut butter and cinnamon. The creator, Fanny Go, was born and raised in Southern China (where there are no egg rolls) and now lives in Chicago.

    In addition to her basic recipe, she suggests these optional extras which you can incorporate into Chef Yan’s recipe:

  • ½ cup boiled shrimp, cut into dime-size pieces
  • ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, soaked, squeezed and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup well-drained bamboo shoots, julienned
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup bean sprouts, well drained
  • Editor’s choice: Chinese sausage (if you can get hold of it)
    Once you get the hang of it, you can experiment with your favorite fillings, from vegetarian to Swiss cheese—or anything that goes well with beer or wine.

    Back to Chef Yan’s recipe:



    1. HEAT a wok or stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides of the pan. Add the pork, ginger and garlic; stir-fry until meat is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Drain the excess oil.

    2. COMBINE the pork, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a medium bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes.

    3. COMBINE the cabbage, carrot and green onions in a large bowl. Add the meat mixture; toss well and let it cool slightly.

    4. FILL the rolls: Place a wrapper on a clean flat surface in front of you so that it looks like a diamond. Place 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Fold the bottom point up over the filling and roll once. Fold in the right and left points. Brush the beaten egg on the top point. Continue rolling until you have a tight cylinder. Place the filled rolls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth while filling remaining rolls.

    5. FRY: Heat 2-3 inches of cooking oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or wok, to 350°F. Add the egg rolls, a few at a time, and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    Serve with sweet and sour sauce, plum sauce, hot mustard or jalapeño pepper jelly.

    Recipe copyright Yan Can Cook, Inc., 2014

    It can be very confusing, but we’ve done our best here to explain the differences.

    While some countries, including China, serve fried egg rolls and spring rolls, the terms are not synonymous. An egg roll has a heavier pastry wrapper of wheat dough that contains eggs—hence the name. The cooked roll can be sliced into sections. Spring roll wrappers are made without egg. A fried spring roll is very fragile and can shatter like phyllo.

  • Egg rolls are deep fried. The wrappers are thicker, making egg rolls more of a filled pastry. They can have a vegetable, egg, meat and/or seafood filling. The filling varies by chef, and can include chopped shrimp, ground beef, ground chicken or turkey, matchstick-sliced pork or Chinese sausage, minced cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms.

    Egg Rolls

    Spring Rolls

    Top: Chef Martin Yan’s egg rolls, served with sweet and sour sauce. Photo courtesy | Yan Can Cook. Bottom: Translucent rice paper enables spring and summer rolls to show off the ingredients inside. Photo courtesy Nature Box.


  • Spring rolls can be fried or not. The fried versions use thinner wheat wrappers and are narrower and more finger-like. They can be filled with pork and/or shrimp. Spring rolls can also be served in an uncooked rice noodle wrapper. These are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival in China, hence the name; and are also popular in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thee rice noodle wrappers are moistened into pliancy and translucency, then filled with seafood, bean thread vermicelli, red lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves, shredded cabbage and carrot, plus wonderfully refreshing herbs—fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves. They are served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
  • Summer rolls are made in the style of spring rolls, but with more seasonal ingredients. They are always in a rice noodle wrapper and never fried. The ingredients can be cooked, raw or a mixture, and the colors and shapes show through the translucent wrapper. Ingredients typically include pork and/or shrimp or vegetables, rice vermicelli (noodles) and fresh herbs (basil, cilantro and mint). The dipping sauce for summer rolls is typically a blend of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce or tamari, with minced scallions and a splash of toasted sesame oil.
    The dipping sauces for the different rolls can be mixed and matched. Our favorites include peanut sauce, a blend of peanut butter and hoisin sauce with garlic; sweet and hot red chili sauce; and rice vinegar/soy sauce.
    The way to best learn the differences, of course, is to go out and eat them, or make them at home. But note that even restaurants and retail establishments can abel these different rolls incorrectly.



    FOOD FUN: Good Luck Foods For The Chinese New Year

    The Chinese New Year starts on February 8th. It’s the Year of the Monkey.

    It’s also known as the Lunar New Year, since it’s based on the lunar calendar; and other Asian countries besides China celebrate it. The celebration lasts for 15 days, and is celebrated by an estimated 1.4 billion people around the world.

    Families gather to feast and to wish each other good luck in the year ahead. Children may be given red envelopes filled with coins, although the money inside is not as important as the color and symbol found on the envelopes, which signify happiness and good blessings.


    These tidbits come from Calbee North America, a company that specializes in crisp, natural snacks with popular brands like Harvest Snaps, Saya Snow Pea Crisps and Shrimp Chips.

  • The start of the Chinese New Year varies each year. It depends entirely on the phases of the moon, which is why it is also known as the Lunar New Year. It usually begins sometime between January 21st and February 10th.
  • The Chinese New Year engenders the world’s largest human migration, known as Chunyan. More than one billion people board planes, trains, boats, buses and cars to visit loved ones.
  • Chinese New Year celebrations were born out of fear and myth. Legend spoke of the wild beast Nien (which also is the word for year) who appeared at the end of each year, attacking and killing villagers. Loud noises and bright lights were used to scare the beast away.
  • No meat is eaten on the first day of the Chinese New Year. This is meant to ensure a long and happy life. (Did those ancient Chinese know about cholesterol?)
  • The meal on Chinese New Year’s Eve is the most important dinner of the year. Typically, families gather at a relative’s house for dinner. These days, many families often celebrate at a restaurant.
  • Greet people with the phrase Kung Hei Fat Choi. It means Happy New Year, or May You Have Good Fortune, in Cantonese.

    Calamondin Oranges


    Lucky citrus: Both oranges and pomelos are considered good luck for the Lunar New Year. Top photo courtesy, bottom photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.




    A whole fish is served to ensure a good start and finish to the year. Photo courtesy Eataly.



    Stock up for Chinese New Year with:

    1. Oranges & Tangerines

    Displaying these fruits, and eating them, is said to bring wealth and luck. The tradition stems from the way the Chinese words for gold and orange sound alike, while the word for tangerine echoes luck.
    2. Long Noodles

    Eating the longest possible noodles portends long life. Unless you can buy uncut fresh strands from a pasta shop, look for a box of spaghettoni.
    3. Pomelo

    This parent of the grapefruit is thought to bring prosperity and status, because its Cantonese name sounds similar to the words for prosperity and status. (The pomelo was crossed with a variety of orange to produce the grapefruit.)

    4. Long Leafy Greens and Long Beans

    Chinese broccoli and long beans are cooked without slicing, to wish for a long life. You can substitute regular broccoli, broccoli rabe or broccolini. As for the long beans: They’re so much fun, so see if you can find them at a Chinese grocer.
    5. Whole Fish

    The Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for abundance. The fish is served with the head and tail intact to ensure a good start and finish to the year.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Egg Drop Soup

    Chinese Egg Drop Soup

    Fresh Cilantro

    Top: Egg drop soup is known for its strands
    of eggs. Bottom: A fresh herb garnish
    —chives/green onion, cilantro or parsley—
    makes a big difference. Photos courtesy
    Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    Chinese egg drop soup is a very simple concept: chicken broth with thin strands of cooked egg. The strands are created by pouring a thin stream of beaten eggs into hot broth at the end of cooking.

    It’s the easiest dish you can make to celebrate the Chinese New Year—also called the Lunar New Year, since other countries in Asia celebrate the holiday. With no added fat or carbs, it’s also spot-on for new year’s diet resolutions—American or Chinese versions.

    The recipe below, from Good Eggs in San Francisco, is more sophisticated than what you get at Chinese restaurants in the U.S. Star anise and miso give the soup so much flavor, it becomes a knock-your-socks-off alternative to the standard American version—typically a bland, gummy (from too much cornstarch) soup.

    While you’re at it, make your own Chinese fortune cookies for dessert!

    In China, the dish that we call egg drop soup is called egg flower soup. Food historians can’t pin a date on the emergence of the recipe, but the domestication of fowl for eggs was recorded as far back as 1400 B.C.E.

    Similar recipes combining chicken broth and eggs appear in other cultures as well.

  • In France, tourin, a garlic soup, is made with chicken stock that is drizzled with egg whites and thickened with an egg yolk. Unlike egg drop soup, the egg whites are whisked in rapidly to prevent strands from forming.
  • The Greeks added fresh lemon juice to create avogolemono soup. The eggs are added for body and don’t create strands.
  • In Italy, the addition of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese created stracciatella. As with egg drop soup, the eggs form strands.
    In China, versatility is the name of the game.

  • Tastes vary across regions, with southern Chinese preferring to thicken the broth with cornstarch, and northerners favoring a thinner soup without it.

  • Tomatoes, corn and green peas may get tossed in as well.
  • Other add-ins can include bean sprouts and tofu cubes.
  • Familiar garnishes may include black pepper, chopped green onions (scallions), and a drizzle of sesame oil, but that’s just the beginning of a whole slew of possibilities.
    In the U.S.:

  • The soup is thickened with cornstarch, as is done in southern China.
  • It is typically served without a garnish or extra add-ins—but make yours as customized as you like.
  • We like to add cooked chicken strips and chopped green onions, plus fresh cilantro or parsley—whichever we have on hand.
    As with any recipe, you can (and should!) make it your own.



    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    You can buy the broth or make it with this recipe.

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 quart chicken broth/bone broth
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 4 eggs

    1. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat in a big soup pot. When the oil is hot, add the leek and cook for about 6 minutes, until it is soft and starting to turn golden brown. At this point, turn the heat down to medium and carefully add the broth. Then whisk in the star anise, soy sauce and vinegar.

    2. ADD the miso: Pour a ladleful of the broth into a small bowl and add the miso. Whisk to incorporate, then pour the enhanced broth back into the pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes. While the broth cooks…

    3. WHISK the eggs vigorously in a mixing bowl that has a pouring spout, until the whites and yolks are completely (and we mean completely) combined. When the broth has simmered and you’re ready to eat, turn the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the heat back down to low and wait until the broth is at a steady simmer.


    Star Anise

    Midget Corn

    Star anise is perhaps the most beautiful spice. Photo courtesy Bottom: Customize your soup with ingredients like baby corn. Photo courtesy

    4. At this point, hold the bowl of eggs in your left hand and slowly stir the broth with a whisk in your right hand. Pour the egg into the broth in a slow and steady stream and watch it form an eggy ribbon as soon as it hits the broth. (If it doesn’t immediately form a ribbon, the broth needs to be hotter—so stop pouring and turn up the heat for a few minutes before trying again.) Continue to pour and stir slowly until all of the eggs are in. Let the broth stand for a few minutes for the eggs to finish cooking, then garnish with parsley and serve.

    Perhaps the prettiest spice, star anise (photo above) comes from an evergreen tree native to Vietnam and China. Although it is not related to the herb anise, it closely resembles anise in flavor since both contain the organic compound anethole.

    Star anise, the seed of the tree, is harvested from the star-shaped pericarp*.

    It is widely used in China, where it is a component of Chinese five-spice powder; in India it is a major component of garam masala. It is also prominent in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines. In Vietnam, you’ll find it in our favorite soup, pho. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia.

    The French use it in mulled wine (vin chaud).
    *Pericarp is a type of plant tissue, the outer layer of the flower’s ovary wall. It surrounds the seeds, in this case, the star anise.


    RECIPE: Peppermint Crunch Marshmallows

    Peppermint Crunch Marshmallows

    Peppermint Crunch

    TOP PHOTOS: Minty marshmallow marvels for Christmas snacking. BOTTOM PHOTO: Buying peppermint candy crunch saves you the time of trying to evenly crush whole peppermints or candy canes. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.


    To bring to a party or for homemade gifts, marshmallows are a delightful alternative to cookies. This holiday, from King Arthur Flour, pack lots of peppermint in every bite.

    For a milder peppermint flavor, simply omit the optional peppermint oil. (Personally, we love lots of mintiness. We also recommend the optional red gel paste to get the beautiful color in the photo.)

    Prep time is 20 minutes to 30 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Marshmallows are best made a day in advance, so they can set in the pan before cutting. Here are step-by-step photos.


    Ingredients For 24 Marshmallows

  • 3 packets (1/4 ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cool water, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil for extra-strong peppermint flavor
  • 1/2 cup peppermint crunch, crushed hard peppermint candies or candy canes
  • Optional: 5 to 10 drops red gel paste for richer color
  • Glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar, to sprinkle on top

    1. COMBINE the gelatin and 1/2 cup of the cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Set the bowl aside. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan (glass or ceramic is best) and a dough scraper, and set both aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, corn syrup, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 238°F to 240°F on a candy or digital thermometer. Remove from the heat.

    3. TURN the mixer to low speed; slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy and and has cooled to lukewarm (3 to 10 minutes depending on the mixer and attachment you use; a stand mixer using the whisk attachment will work more quickly than a hand mixer equipped with beaters). The mixture should be cool enough that you can spread it into the pan without burning your fingers, about 95°F. Add the peppermint oil towards the end of the mixing time. NOTE: Don’t let the marshmallow get so thick that it forms a stiff ball inside the wire whisk; it shouldn’t be as stiff as meringue icing. When the marshmallow is fully whipped…

    4. ADD the peppermint crunch and red gel paste, and mix just until you can see swirls of red and white. Spread the marshmallow into the greased pan with the greased dough scraper.

    5. WET your fingers and use them to smooth and flatten the marshmallow in the pan. Sprinkle the glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar over the top, and let sit for several hours (or overnight) before cutting.

    6. USE a greased knife or cookie cutters to make squares or other shapes. You can cut about two dozen 2″ marshmallows or eight dozen 1″ marshmallows (we prefer the larger size for visual impact).

    7. WRAP the marshmallows airtight in plastic. They can be stored for several days at room temperature.



    FOOD FUN: Green Tea Fortune Cookie Cake

    At last: an idea to repurpose the fortune cookies that so many of us acquire from Chinese food take-out.
    This Green Tea layer cake is made by Baked NYC, one of the most popular bakeries in New York City. The cake has three almond white cake layers, frosted and filled with green tea buttercream.

    You can call it a Green Tea Cake, Fortune Cookie Cake, or Chinese New Year Cake. It’s easy to whip up with a box of white cake mix and some dark or white chocolate, into which you dip the fortune cookies. Here’s how:


  • Add 1 teaspoon of almond extract to a white cake batter (use a boxed mix).
  • If you want an actual green tea cake, add 4 teaspoons of matcha (powdered green tea) to the cake batter/mix and omit the almond extract.
  • Make the green tea buttercream (recipe below).
  • Dip the fortune cookies into melted dark or white chocolate.
  • If you like crunch, crush extra fortune cookies with a rolling pin and add the pieces to the filling over the bottom layer.


    Green tea frosting on a layer cake. The fortune cookies were dipped in white chocolate. Photo courtesy

    If you want to make your own fortune cookies from scratch, here’s the recipe.



  • 1-1/2 sticks butter softened
  • 3 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

    1. COMBINE the water and tea powder to make a paste.

    2. CREAM the butter and tea until completely combined. Gradually add powdered sugar until you reach the consistency you like for frosting.



    Matcha, powdered green tea, is whisked with
    water into a foamy beverage. Photo by Kelly
    Cline | IST.



    Matcha is powdered green tea the consistency of talc, that is used in the Japanese tea ceremony (cha no yu). Matcha has a wonderful aroma, a creamy, silky froth and a rich, mellow taste.

    Matcha is made from ten-cha leaves, which are gyokuro leaves that have been not been rolled into needles but are instead steamed and dried. They are top-grade Japanese green tea, produced by a special process in the Uji district, a region known for producing some of the finest green teas in Japan.

    The tea bushes are shaded from sunlight for three weeks before harvesting, producing amino acids that sweeten the taste. Unlike whole leaf tea, which is steeped, the leaves are then ground like flour, slowly and finely in a stone mill. The powder is whisked into water, creating a foamy drink. It is the only powdered tea.

    Powdered tea is the original way in which tea was prepared. Steeping dried leaves in boiling water didn’t arrive until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

    Matcha contains a higher amount of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, L-theanine amino acids, polyphenols, chlorophyll and fiber) than other teas.

    In recent years, matcha has become a popular cooking and baking ingredient, and now comes in different grades for different uses. Pastry chefs have incorporated it into everything from cakes and custards to ice cream.

    The Chinese calendar consists of both Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems. Because the track of the new moon changes from year to year, Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February.

    This year, it begins today, and it’s the Year Of The Goat, one of the 12 zodiac animals. The Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle. Each year in the cycle has an animal sign: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat/ram/sheep, monkey, rooster, dog or pig.

    But what’s with the goat/sheep/ram? Which one is it?

    It’s what you want it to be. In Mandarin, the character “yang” refers to a horned animal, and covers all three of the contenders. But if you go for sheep, know that is one of the least desirable animals on the zodiac. A sheep is seen as a docile, weak follower, rather than a leader.

    So go for the goat: a feisty, independent-minded ruminant whose milk makes our favorite cheese!

    If This Is Your Lunar Year…

    In addition to those born this year, those under the goat/ram/sheep sign were born in 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 and 2003. For them, 2015 is an auspicious year.

    People born in the Year Of The Goat are said to like to be in groups. They are honest, intimate, and can be easily moved by the misfortune of others.

    Every sign confers lucky numbers, lucky colors, lucky flowers, etc. So whether you’re a goat or one of the other zodiac animals, head on over to to find yours.

    CHINESE NEW YEAR TRIVIA: The tradition of spending the Lunar New Year holiday with family means that hundreds of millions of Chinese people are traveling home. It’s the world’s biggest annual migration.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Popcorn Balls

    The oldest popcorn known to date—actual ears of corn—was discovered in a cave in New Mexico, and carbon-dated to be more than 5,600 years old. It was not eaten as a snack food by early Americans, but was popped and then pounded into meal that was mixed with water and cooked.

    Fast-forward several thousand years: The early Colonists ate popcorn as a breakfast cereal, with milk and a sweetener. (Think puffed corn cereals like those from Arrowhead Mills and Nature’s Path, among others, not to mention Kellogg’s Corn Pops.)

    In the 18th century, after the corn harvest, rendered fat would be thrown into a cast iron pot over an open fire. When the fat was hot, farmers would toss in corn kernels, a little molasses or other sweetener, and then wait for the corn to pop into a sweet, hot treat.

    By the 1840s, corn popping had become a popular recreational activity in the U.S. Popcorn balls, the kernels stuck together with a sugar syrup, were hugely popular around the turn of the 20th century, both for eating and for holiday decorations (they were hung with ribbons from Christmas trees).

    With the availability of bagged popcorn brands, popcorn balls began to wane, appearing mostly in the hoiday season from Halloween through Christmas.

    Here’s the full history of popcorn.


    Homemade cranberry popcorn balls for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Photo courtesy


    Popcorn is a better-for-you snack. Plain popcorn is loaded with whole grains, fiber and antioxidants.

    Of course, when you add butter, salt and sugar, it adds less-better-for-you ingredients. But compared to other sweet and salty snacks, it’s the winner.

    So consider these popcorn balls a better option for holiday snacking.



    Plain popcorn is a terrific snack: whole grain, high in fiber and low in calories. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE



    You can serve these from a platter or a serving bowl, or wrap individually in cellophane and tie with a ribbon for a party favor or stocking stuffer. Add a name tag to create a combination place setting and take-home favor.

    Ingredients For 18 Popcorn Balls

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, slightly mashed
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 quarts unsalted popped popcorn


    1. COMBINE all ingredients, except popcorn, in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil; lower heat and cook to 250°F on a candy thermometer. The mixture will bubble up in the pan, so watch it carefully to keep the mixture from boiling over.

    2. POUR slowly over the hot popcorn and mix until the corn is well coated. Let it stand for 5 minutes or until the mixture can easily be formed into balls.

    3. SPRAY your hands with a cooking spray (or use butter) hands and form the popcorn into 3-inch balls.

    If you’ve got sage left over from the stuffing or other recipe, make this sage popcorn recipe.



    CHINESE NEW YEAR: Chinese Long Beans

    It’s Chinese New Year: The Year Of The Horse begins today (the actual year is 4712). Make a Chinese-inspired dish.

    Chef Daniel Boulud take Chinese long beans, steamed them and tied them into knots, topped with chicken (see the photo below).

    What a fun way to get people to eat more green beans!

    Our recipe, below, is much simpler, and the Chinese-style beans can be served with any dish that pair with green beans.

    You can find Chinese long beans in Asian markets, or plan ahead and grow your own yard-long string beans with these string bean seeds from Burpee.

    You can substitute regular green beans, which are just as tasty, if not as striking in appearance.


    Chinese long beans. Photo courtesy Burpee.



    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
    *Available in the Asian products section of most supermarkets, in Asian specialty stores and online; Lee Kum Kee is a quality brand. See more about oyster sauce below. You can substitute Hoisin sauce, but it gives the dish a sweeter flavor than the pungent oyster sauce.


    Daniel Boulud’s long bean knots with
    chicken. Photo by Richard Patterson | | Restaurant



    1. HEAT peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook until the edges begin to brown, about 20 seconds.

    2. ADD the beans; cook and stir until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

    3. STIR in the sugar, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Continue cooking/stirring for several minutes until the beans have attained the desired degree of tenderness.

    Its botanical name is Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis. It is best known as the long bean or Chinese yardlong bean, but also as the asparagus bean, bora, long-podded cowpea, pea bean, snake bean and yardlong bean. The pods are actually about half a yard long; the subspecies name sesquipedalis means “one and a half feet long” (half a yard).


    While its flavor is similar to the green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), it is from a different genus. In fact, it is a member of the cowpea species, which includes blackeyed peas.


    A popular condiment in Chinese and Filipino cuisines, oyster sauce is often used in stir fries and as a topping for steamed vegetables.

    The viscous sauce is prepared from oysters and brine. A true oyster sauce is aromatic with intense flavor, and is expensive. Most oyster sauces on the market are cheaper, diluted solutions of concentrated ones. There are also vegan versions made from mushrooms.

    Oyster sauce was invented in 1888 by Mr. Lee Kam-Sheung of Nam Shui Village in Guangdong Province, Chinas, an island where oysters were abundant.

    Originally born in another village, Lee was a farmer who had to leave town following threats from local gangsters. He opened a restaurant in his new village, using the local oysters to make stock. One day he forgot about a pot of stock on the stove, and when he returned to it the stock had boiled down to a thick, aromatic and delicious sauce: a happy accident!*

    His company, Lee Kum Kee, continues to produce oyster sauce along with a wide variety of fine Asian condiments.

    *Source: Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in Hong Kong: A Casebook, edited by Ali F. Farhoomand. Here’s the page reference.



    RECIPE: Chinese Steamed Dumplings With A Twist


    Buffalo chicken dumplings: fusion food.
    Photo and recipe courtesy IMUSA USA.


    The Chinese New Year begins on January 31st; the Super Bowl is February 2nd. Here’s a dish that combines both concepts: Buffalo Chicken Steamed Dumplings.

    The recipe for this fusion food—Chinese steamed dumplings crossed with Buffalo chicken wings—was developed by IMUSA USA. The company manufacturers cookware for international cuisine, including the bamboo steaming basket in the photo.



  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • ½ small onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons curly parsley
  • ½ cup celery
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Dumpling wrappers (you can use won ton
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup Buffalo style hot sauce, like Frank’s
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • Preparation

    1. MIX first 9 ingredients (chicken through pepper) by hand in a medium bowl until evenly combined.

    2. ASSEMBLE dumplings by placing dumpling wrapper on a flat surface. Roll a small ball of the chicken mixture between your hands, about a tablespoon, and place in the center of the wonton wrapper.

    3. DIP a finger in a cup of water and run it around the edges of the wrapper. Pick up a wrapper and chicken ball with one hand (between your thumb and index finger) and begin pinching hard around the wrapper until it tightly wraps the chicken ball. Re-pinch if necessary.

    4. SPRAY the steaming basket with non-stick spray and add the dumplings. Steam for 10 minutes until fully cooked.

    5. MAKE the hot sauce by gently heating the hot sauce and the butter. Spoon some sauce on a plate and place dumplings on top. Garnish with more crumbled blue cheese, if desired.



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