Lunar New Year Candy Bars

January 25 (2020): Asian Lunar New Year

Happy new year (again)! In an attempt to make edible spring couplets, Islander asked her adult ESL students to write Korean and Chinese greetings and well wishes on auspiciously red-colored confectioners candy bars. The activity was a nice break from the usual reading/conversation/pronunciation lessons for the day and gave her students a chance to share some sweet candy, traditions and information about their cultural observances of the lunar new year with others at school. Simply make this fun and festive food to ring in the Year of the Rat!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Red candy melts (Wilton brand)
  • White tube icing

Directions

Melt the candy melts according to the package instructions. Stir until smooth. Pour into rectangular candy molds. Cool to set. Unmold carefully onto paper towels.

Using a small round tip on the white tube icing, write short new year greetings in Chinese or Korean characters. Let dry but do not stack.

Notes

Mochi Matcha Bundt Cake

January 1: New Year’s Day/National Hot Tea Month

Most Asians have a tradition to eat mochi (glutinous rice flour) desserts on New Year’s Day. The sticky chewy texture of the food symbolizes that luck will stick around all year long while the “rice” spelling resembles the word “rich” for prosperity ahead. We have eaten mochi-based Filipino bibingka and Chinese gau many times before. But here now is our double take on this Japanese-inspired mochi matcha bundt cake recipe. The chocolate cake contains mochi for keeping the new year food tradition while the matcha green tea is for commemorating the month-long food holiday. The two-tone color of this mochi matcha bundt cake is a visual representation of celebrating both New Year’s Day and National Hot Tea Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from PopSugar)

Ingredients

  • 1 box (1 pound) mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

Grease a bundt pant and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the mochiko, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter with the sugar. Stir in the evaporated milk.

Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Divide the batter in half into two bowls. To the first bowl, mix in the cocoa powder. To the second bowl, mix in the matcha green tea powder. Stir in the mini chocolate chips into the cocoa powder mixture.

Pour the chocolate batter into the bundt pan first and smooth it out with a spatula. Next, pour the matcha batter on top of the chocolate batter. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick or wooden skewer. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Invert the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice to reveal the two-tone colored cake. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the slices before serving (optional)

Notes

  • This mochi matcha bundt cake bakes up a dull green but photographs okay in the light. Feel free to add a few drops of green food coloring in the matcha batter and mix well to make the hue brighter when baked.
  • Search our blog for other traditional New Year’s and hot tea recipes.

Marsala Veal

January 1: New Year’s Day (2015)

Inspired by the announcement that the Pantone company chose “marsala” as the color of the year for 2015, Islander cooked Marsala Veal for our first dinner of the new year—in our new home in the Gulf Coast area of Texas. We had moved from Southwest Texas only a few weeks ago during the hectic holiday season and are still organizing our kitchen and pantry.

According to Pantone, “Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

We blogged about Marsala Chicken a few years ago. We revisited the recipe and used veal instead of chicken as the “propitious protein” for the new year and, like Pantone’s description of the color, Marsala Veal is a fulfilling meal, especially when served with other auspicious foods, such as noodles (“longevity”) or rice (“riches”).

Enjoy the color of the year as well as this recipe for Marsala Veal. Happy 2015!!!

Recipe
(Adapted from the Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 4-5 veal slices for scallopini
  • flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • olive oil
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, cubed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (baby bella, crimini, porcini, etc.), stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cup Marsala wine (sweet instead of dry)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with water to form a paste to thicken the sauce)
  • ¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped and for optional garnish

 

Directions

Dredge the veal in flour, shaking off the excess. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Fry the veal until both sides are slightly browned, being careful not to overcook the slices or they will not be as tender. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. In the same skillet with the drippings, fry the prosciutto.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until brown. Pour in the Marsala wine and cook for about a minute. Stir in the chicken stock. In a small cup, make a paste with the cornstarch and water. Stir into the sauce to thicken. Put the veal slices back into the skillet. Simmer for about five minutes. Put on a platter and garnish with parsley flakes. Serve with pasta noodles or hot rice with the sauce poured over.

Notes

  • Good luck to Highlander in his new job in the Gulf Coast area of Texas (the reason we moved from our beloved San Antonio). Good luck to all our blog readers in the new year!
  • Search our blog for other new year’s recipes.

 

 

Black Bun

Black Bun

December 31: Hogmanay

Highlander grew up eating fruit cake, mince meat tarts and shortbread during the holiday season. Following Scottish tradition, he also snacks on slices of black bun during Hogmanay (Scottish word for “last day of the year”). The dessert gets its name from the dark and dense rich filling of raisins and currants. Moreover, ground black pepper is one of the dark spices included in the ingredients.

A popular tradition on Hogmanay, which is celebrated all night on new year’s eve until the wee hours of new year’s day, is “first-footing.” If a tall, dark-haired male is the first visitor to enter one’s home after midnight, he is considered the bringer of good luck in the coming year. The first-footer also brings presents, such as a coin, bread, salt, coal, whisky and, of course, black bun. These lucky gifts represent fortune, bounty, warmth and good cheer.

Celebrate the new year with a sweet Scottish black bun. Happy Hogmanay to all of our HI Cookery blog readers!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking” by Carol Wilson and Christopher Trotter)

For the “bun” pastry

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened and cut into cubes
  • cold water

Directions

Generously grease an 8-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the cubes of butter. Mix with fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Moisten with enough water until a dough is formed. Roll into a ball.

Black Bun

On a floured surface, roll out the dough thinly, making sure it is large enough to line the pan with a little overhang. Trim excess dough and roll out another piece large enough to cover the top of the pan. Set aside and make the filling.

Black Bun

For the “black” filling

  • 4 cups raisins
  • 3 cups currants
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped, sliced or slivered
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten (1 for the filling, 1 for the glaze)
  • 1-2 tablespoons brandy
  • 5 tablespoons milk

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the raisins with the currants. Mix in the flour and brown sugar.

Black Bun

Stir in the almonds. In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Mix the spices into the filling. Moisten with one beaten egg, brandy and milk.

Black Bun

Spoon the filling into the pastry, pressing down to pack it all in. Moisten the edges with a little water and cover with the remaining pastry. Trim with a knife as necessary. Press the edges to seal well.

Black Bun

Prick the top with the tines of a fork. Brush with egg glaze. Bake in a preheated oven at 225 degrees F for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Remove from the pan and wrap in foil. Store in an airtight container until Hogmanay.

Black Bun

When ready to serve, place onto a cutting board and slice to reveal the black filling.

Black Bun

Notes

  • Black Bun is traditionally made several weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container to allow the flavors to develop and mature. Then it is served on New Year’s Eve and Day.
  • See our shortbread recipes (traditional, chocolate and lemon) on January 6 (National Shortbread Day).

Hoppin’ John

Hoppin' John

January 1: New Year’s Day

Now that we are living in the American South, we have been trying to cook more regional recipes. For New Year’s Day, we once made Hoppin’ John, a traditional Southern dish containing black-eyed peas and rice (the words “peas” and “rice” look like “peace” and “riches”). These ingredients, which are symbolic of “many coins,” are combined with pork (ham hock, sausage or bacon), seasonings and vegetables for a hearty meal. Southerners believe that if you eat Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, it will bring wealth throughout the year.  So eat with gusto for good fortune and luck! Happy New Year!

Recipe

(Adapted from Ranch Style-ConAgra Foods Brand)

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of black-eyed peas with bacon, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces Kielbasa sausage, sliced (or other pork pieces)
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth

Directions

Slice the onions, celery and sausage. Set aside. In a pot with a cover, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion, celery and minced garlic for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Hoppin' John

Add the beans. Stir in the sausage, rice, red pepper flakes and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cover with the lid. Stir occasionally but do not overmix or the beans will turn mushy. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the broth is absorbed.

Hoppin' John

Notes

  • Other versions of this simple Southern dish may contain greens (collard, mustard or turnip, etc.), chard, spinach or kale for the color of money. We eat a tossed green salad with this Hoppin’ John recipe for good health in the new year.
  • It is optional to add a clean coin to the recipe before serving. Like many other new year’s dishes involving a hidden trinket (symbolic of Baby Jesus hiding from King Herod), tradition holds that whoever finds the coin in his/her Hoppin’ John portion will be blessed with good luck in the new year.
  • Occasionally our own parents would prepare a similar ham hocks and beans dish for our families when we were growing up and we really liked it. However, Hoppin’ John is not a favorite festive food for us. We prefer the tastes of other traditional new year’s dishes, some of which are featured in our blog.