Showing posts with label Chinese New Year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chinese New Year. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The 50 Most Delicious Foods and a Recipe for One of Them from Cleo Coyle


~ George Bernard Shaw

A fitting quote for this week, given the one-two punch of Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day. Add the global Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Black Snake and we have a foodie trifecta. 

Every culture has its favorite foods, of course, and a few years ago, members of the travel staff at CNN issued their own picks. The list of "The World's 50 Most Delicious Foods" is highly subjective and plenty of people disagreed with it. If you haven’t seen it, scroll to the end of this postand feel free to leave a comment on dishes you think should be on there.

A choice I absolutely agree with is the Hong Kong-style egg custard tart, which clocked in at #16, and if you've ever sampled one, then you know why. Creamy, eggy custard combines with flaky, buttery pastry to create a delightful combination of mouth-watering flavor and contrasting textures.

In Hong Kong—and New York’s Chinatown—the tarts are served warm, although they’re just as delightful at room temperature or chilled. (This I know from noshing a few for breakfast, straight from the fridge.) 

Watch a Hong Kong baker make
these tarts in the video below...

Cleo Coyle, trading hearts
for tarts this weeks,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries

Hong Kong-Style 
Egg Custard Tarts

from Cleo Coyle's 
A Brew to a Kill

You've heard of pub crawls? Well, to research this recipe, along with a few scenes that took place in our recent culinary mystery, A Brew to a Kill, my husband and I did an egg tart crawl to several bake shops in New York's Chinatown. 

In the acknowledgments of the book, you'll find the names of a few of those bakeries along with other fun, foodie destinations to try on your next trip to New York City.

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

The recipe below was also printed in the back of A Brew to a Kill, along with many more. Enjoy!

Makes 12 tarts 

4 large eggs 
4 large egg yolks 
2/3 cup whole milk 
2/3 cup white granulated sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Directions: Gently whisk together ingredients. Run the mixture through a sieve. Pour into 12 pre-made tart shells or see my recipe below to make your own. Bake about 25 minutes in an oven preheated to 325° F. Centers should resemble creamy custard and not be rubbery. Tarts are done when an inserted toothpick (like a good alibi) stands up on its own. These tarts are traditionally served warm but are just as delicious at room temperature or chilled. To store, wrap loosely in wax paper or plastic and place in refrigerator. 

Tart Crusts 

Makes 12 small tart shells or 1 large tart crust 

1¼ cup all-purpose flour 
½ teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
6 tablespoons butter (chilled) 
¼ cup vegetable shortening 
2–3 tablespoons hot water

Directions: Sift the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add in the shortening. Using the tips of your fingers, work the fats into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the hot water and continue working and kneading until it comes together into a smooth dough. Pat the dough into a large ball, flatten the ball into a disc, and wrap the disc in plastic or wax paper. Refrigerate for thirty minutes. Dust a surface with flour and roll flat. Stamp out circles and press into tart molds or (for more rustic tarts) use muffin pan tins. Bake as directed in the above recipe.

A few photos from our
Chinatown egg tart crawl...

If you see an NYPD cruiser in front of a restaurant, chances are
the food is good, and the egg custard tarts were excellent
at Golden Manna Bakery at 16 Bowery Street. Highly recommended!
No egg tarts on the menu, but you've
gotta dig a pagoda with golden arches.

Happy Chinese New Year!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.  

To learn more...

Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

View the Coffeehouse
Mystery book trailer
by clicking here.

The World's 50
Most  Delicious Foods chosen by staff members of CNN
1. Massaman curry, Thailand, 2. Neapolitan pizza, Italy,
3. Chocolate, Mexico, 4. Sushi, Japan,
5. Peking duck, China, 6. Hamburger, Germany,
7. Penang assam laksa, Malaysia, 8. Tom yum goong, Thailand,
9. Ice cream, United States, 10. Chicken muamba, Gabon,
11. Rendang, Indonesia, 12. Shepherd’s pie, Britain,
13. Corn on the cob, global, 14. Donuts, USA,
15. Kalua pig, USA, 16. Egg tart, Hong Kong,
17. Lobster, global, 18. Kebab, Iran,
19. Nam tok moo, Thailand, 20. Arepas, Venezuela,
21. Croissant, France, 22. Brownie and vanilla ice cream, glob
23. Lasagna, Italy, 24. Champ, Ireland,  
25. Butter garlic crab, India, 26. Fajitas, Mexico, 
27. Montreal-style smoked meat, Canada 28. Pho, Vietnam, 29. Ohmi-gyu beef steak, Japan, 30. Goi cuon (summer roll), Vietnam 31. Parma ham, Italy 32. Ankimo, Japan 
33. Fish 'n’ chips, Britain, 34. Maple syrup, Canada,
35. Chili crab, Singapore, 36. Texas barbecue pork, United States,
37. Chicken parm, Australia, 38. French toast, Hong Kong,
39. Ketchup, United States, 40. Marzipan, Germany,
41. Stinky tofu, Southeast Asia, 42. Buttered toast with Marmite, Britain,
43. Tacos, Mexico, 44. Poutine, Canada,
45. Chicken rice, Singapore, 46. Som tam, Thailand,
47. Seafood paella, Spain, 48. Potato chips, United States,
49. Masala dosa, India, 50. Buttered popcorn, United States

Are your favorites listed?
What would you add?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dumpling Dipping Sauce for Year of the Dragon from Cleo Coyle

Okay, let's get this out of the way right now. I do not make my own dumplings. I mean, are you kidding? I live in New York City, land of Chinese take-out. Despite cooking a handful of Chinese-inspired dishes at home, when it comes to dumplings, I leave it to the professionals. 

With New York's Chinatown only a subway ride away, Marc and I have enjoyed Chinese food, culture, and New Years' celebrations for years. I'll tell you a secret, too. Our favorite little hole-in-the-wall dumpling paradise can be found on Mosco Street. Blink and you'll miss it. Mosco is really more of an alley in Chinatown, but it's home to this little joint...

To find this dumpling shop yourself, simply locate Mosco Street in Chinatown and stroll down it. The street is so small, you can't miss this shop, which serves delicious street food. (See Mosco Street on Google Maps by clicking here. See our snack of fried dumplings and pork buns below...)

Dumplings really are a budget-friendly comfort food. So if you're looking for a change-up from pizza or fries, give dumplings a try this week because eating dumplings is a long-standing tradition for the Chinese New Year, and we've just entered the Year of the Dragon!

Yesterday marked the first day of the Lunar New Year and according to the Chinese zodiac, we said goodbye to the Year of the Rabbit and hello to the mighty and powerful Dragon. 

Have you ever wondered why the Dragon leads the street parades during Chinese New Year celebrations? It's for a very good reason: The Chinese say the Dragon leaves wealth and prosperity in his path--a much better prospect than following the NYPD's horses, wouldn't you say? :)


To see a short montage of the Lunar New Year
opening ceremonies in New York's Chinatown,
click the arrow in the window below...

There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. The year you were born dictates your sign, and the Year of the Dragon is considered the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac.

Which animal sign you were born under? The signs are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat/Ram/Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig/Boar. 

A very detailed zodiac chart, showing which years fall under which signs, can be found at this link: When you jump to the site, click on each animal to read its characteristics. The charts include compatibility predictions and warnings. (...and if you have a spouse, do take those with a grain of salt!)

Because eating dumplings is a tradition for the Lunar New Year, I decided to share a few simple tips with you today for getting the best out of your take-out or (frozen grocery store) dumpling snacking.

Tip #1 - For making frozen at home or reheating take-out dumplings, you don't need a bamboo steamer. I use an inexpensive ($9) stainless steel collapsible basket that can be placed in any pot. This is a great little kitchen gadget that I often use to steam veggies. I'm sure most of you have seen one of these baskets; but for anyone who hasn't, click here to learn more or purchase.

Tip #2 - Line your steamer with leaves of cabbage, spinach, or another leafy green. (The leaves you see in my photos are from baby bok choy.) They impart a lovely, subtle flavor as the dumpling steams. They also keep the dumpling bottoms from sticking and provide an attractive serving base. As you see in my photos, I transferred the leaves from the steamer to the plate for a prettier presentation.

Tip #3 - If you’re using straight soy sauce to dip your dumplings, let me assure you that there is a much tastier option. Many Chinese and Japanese dipping sauces blend soy sauce (or tamari*) with other ingredients to create a flavorful eating experience. The ingredients in this one are easily found in American grocery stores, so the next time you pick up a package of frozen dumplings or call for take-out, try my recipe and…

Eat with Dragon joy!  
~ Cleo 

*Tamari [tuh-MAH-ree] is similar to soy sauce but thicker and darker. It is more mellow than soy sauce and tends to have a smoother, more complex flavor.

Cleo Coyle, who married
a Dragon, is the author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle’s
Dipping Sauce

Also delicious with egg rolls, 
fried shrimp, chicken nuggets, 
tempura, sushi, and sashimi 

To download this recipe in a PDF form that you can print, save, or share, click here!


¼ cup water

¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari* - scroll up for more info)

2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice (fresh is best!)

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 green onion (scallion)

Directions: Stir together first four ingredients. Be sure the sugar dissolves. Slice the green onion into the mixture. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes for flavors to blend.

Optional extras for added flavor:  
A splash of sesame oil; a bit of ginger (freshly grated); a splash of your favorite drinking wine or Japanese sake (or, if you can find it, Chinese Shaoxing rice wine).

Basic ratio for smaller or larger batches:  1 part water + 1-½ part soy sauce + ½ part lime or lemon juice + ½ part sugar + 1 green onion (scallion) 

May this 
Year of the Dragon
bring you the four
blessings of the East:
wealth, virtue, harmony,
and long life!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.