December 31, 2009

Two-Toned Cookie Rings & HAPPY 2010!!! 雙色圈餅和新年快樂!!!

Wow! Can you believe we only have less than 24 hours before we bid farewell to 2009!? HELLO, 2010! I'm all up and ready for you! I know there'll be ups and downs along the road. Oh, well! Aren't those part of learning?

Late spring on my family friends' farm in Bemidji, Minnesota (U.S.A.)

To date, 2009 has been the most capricious year for me. For the first four months of the year, I was barely a college student. For the next five months, I descended to become a jobless graduate who wandered aimlessly in the middle of nowhere. (Ouch, I know that sucked!) Now, I'm in the workforce full-time--and back home in Malaysia with my loved ones! Time just flees--just like how fast the four seasons would go by before I could even seize a moment out of them. (Yup ... I had my first taste of the four seasons in the States.)

Summer in July by Lake Bemidji, Minnesota (U.S.A.)

Having to go through these 32 months mostly by myself, away from home--and without the luxury of flying home to visit my loved ones even once--put me into deep emotional distress and severe homesickness. Nonetheless, it was a time of self-discovery and self-improvement. It'd led me to the realization of my passion for baking, cooking, food styling and photography, as well as blogging. I'm thankful for the blessings received along the way. And, a big thank-you to all you out there who'd actually read my rambling! ^_^

Fall colors on display before my old apartment in Bemidji, Minnesota (U.S.A.)

I thought I'd have spare time to write more on this journal of mine during my current short break. Boy, I was SO wrong! Two days ago, I finally met up with Ms. LF, a high school friend of mine whom I hadn't seen for five years ... since graduation! Together with another close classmate of ours Ms. YY, we three chatted for close to three hours like nobody's business in the midst of a shopping mall crowd. I'm glad that this happened though it was a really impromptu thing we did.

Winter wonderland at my university, by Lake Bemidji in northern Minnesota (U.S.A.)

The three of us have decided to organize a potluck-style New Year's countdown gathering at Ms. YY's. There'll be a gang of seven people, including Ms. YY's parents who have been so kind and generous to lend us a place to "party on" and stay at. That said, I'm going to be damn busy with all the shopping, prep work and a driving lesson before the party. I hope your transition to the New Year will be a wonderful, memorable one as well!

To wrap things up for 2009, I'd like to share this fun cookie recipe with you. These fancy-looking cookies give you a real crunch that resembles the one of store-bought crunchy cookies. The sweetness is just perfect. Not overly greasy to taste. They are basically crunchy sugar cookies with a hint of matcha goodness--mind you, just a VERY faint of matcha taste. I suppose the powdered matcha serves mostly as a coloring in this instance. The cookies are so fancy that they make great festive cookies. Fun to make, too! Do try them out if going for a potluck is one of your New Year's Eve agenda. With a little effort, the crowd is going to be so impressed by these adorable cookies of yours.

Two-Toned Cookie Rings 雙色圈餅
Adapted from Home-made Cookie, by Meng Zhaoqing 《孟老師的100道手工餅干》。孟兆慶 著
100g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

60g powdered sugar
50g shortening

25g egg white, at room temperature

1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp powdered matcha
  1. Combine (A) together and sift once, then set aside for use later
  2. Briefly blend (B) together with a rubber spatula, then cream them together with hand mixer till combined fully
  3. Gradually stir in the egg white as you keep beating the creamed mixture, till just incorporated.
  4. Sift the flour-baking powder mixture onto the creamed mixture; mix them altogether till fully incorporated by hand and with help from rubber spatula--in a random, "irregular" motion. Of course, don't overdo! You should've gotten a fairly soft dough by now.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal portions. (I weighed mine to be fair ...) Then, blend the cornstarch into one portion of the dough while the powdered matcha into another. Make sure they're thoroughly incorporated, respectively. You should now have a light green-colored dough and a whitish-looking dough.
  6. Wrap both portions of the dough up in sheet(s) of plastic film to prevent them from drying out, then place them in the refrigerator to chill and let rest for 30 minutes
  7. Divide both portions of the dough by 5g to get mini portions, then roll each 5g mini portion into 5cm-long cylinder-like shape--make you have the rest covered in plastic film to prevent the dough from drying out. Mind you, it'll be real tough to work with crumbly drier dough
  8. Take one portion from both the green- and white-colored dough, place them side by side together--of course, slightly and gently "squeeze" them up together, lengthwise, so that they "stick to" each other
  9. Next, holding on to both ends of the combination, gently twist them up together in opposite directions; however, don't panick if it starts to crack--simply place them onto an unfloured working surface and gently roll them in a direction against you (i.e. as in a forwarding motion) to twist them up. This method should help. =)
  10. Place the bicolored dough onto an unfloured working surface and gently roll it in a direction against you to get a 12cm-long "rope." Then, join both ends together and pinch them up tightly to seal; "tidy" it up to get a ring shape if necessary. Place shaped dough onto parchment paper-lined baking tray(s)
  11. Repeat steps 8~10 to the remaining dough, till all used up--if you've divided the dough up evenly via weighing and scaling, there should be just enough for you to make "pairs" out of them. That is, there shouldn't be any odd number.
  12. Bake at 150C for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes of baking, turn off the oven and continue to bake the cookies with the remainder heat for another five minutes by leaving them in the oven with the oven door closed
    This method of baking cookies with the remainder heat dries cookies up nicely without overbrowning them; hence, perfectly colored, dried, crunchy/crispy (un-American) cookies. Instead of chewiness and softness, this type of cookie texture is generally more welcomed and acceptable in Asia and Europe as per my experience and knowledge. (But, don't quote me on that.)
  13. Transfer the cookies onto wire rack(s) to let cool completely before serving and/or storing in an airtigtht container
I'll see you again in 2010! To cap it off, here's to wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR with endless prosperity and blessings ahead!

December 25, 2009

Season's Greetings! Christollenočka What!!??

Because of some policy within the company, a four-day compulsory leave is mandated. Love it or hate it, every staff has to "go on vacation." That means, I'm now officially on my nine-day break in conjunction with Christmas and New Year's holidays. Boohoo ... ='( ... Seems I can finally settle down doing what I enjoy dearly.

The office closed two hours earlier than usual on Christmas Eve. So, I grabbed the chance and commuted to the opposite of the town (or the neighboring state, I should say) via the subway. Worth my effort even though it was raining pretty bad. I spent a few bucks at the baking supply store for my last-minute (compulsive) Christmas shopping. Phew! Glad that I made it--I was 45 minutes shy before it closed for the holiday tomorrow!

When I got back, something odd was, is and will be happening for the next two days. The neighbor on my right is having a wedding; the neighbor on my left is having a funeral. I was silent for a few seconds before I could open my mouth and say, "Boy, what a world!" How can such HUGE contrast happen!? Hmm ... I'm going to have fairly interesting outdoor photo shoot sessions this Holiday weekend--along with my snoopy puppy Chevy. =_=""

My wild ambition had persuaded me into making vánočka, the classic sweet Christmas bread invented by the Czechs. Unfortunately, my ego refused to use any recipes tailor-made solely for vánočka. I don't like biting into rock-hard and dry bread. And, my experience from the States told me most Western-style recipes yield bread that goes stale pretty fast. Blame this on our palate for soft and fluffy Japanese- and Taiwanese-style bread!

At the same time, I wanted something fruitcake this Christmas. And yet, didn't want to burden my body with the heaviness typical of European/American fruitcakes. They're too sweet, too rich for my family. Dreaming of something lighter, I bookmarked the stollen recipe from the Taiwanese bread cookbook Bread Doctor 《65C湯種麵包》. Having been using many recipes from this book, I've come to develop a trust for it. The Indiana Jones in me pushed me even further. So, I went ahead with my crazy idea of tweaking a stollen recipe for vánočka.

Probably, our forefathers back then didn't have baking powder or baking soda to leaven their baked goods. Thus, yeast was normally used. With the exception of the air-leavened génoise (Italian for sponges), classic European cakes such as kugelhopf, baba au rhum and babka are all yeast-raised. Stollen and vánočka are, in fact, yeast fruitcakes traditionally eaten during Christmastime. I like them for their lighter tastes! However, the only major differences I believe are:
  • The use of ingredients--stollen has chopped dried/candied fruits, and no added citrus zest for flavoring normally; vánočka usually has raisins only, and with added citrus zest for flavoring
  • The methods of shaping the loaves--this is a matter of difficulty, patience and will. It's much easier to shape a stollen than a vánočka. Stollen involves just single folding with aid from a rolling pin. Vánočka is giant braid built progressively from several smaller two- or three-braided bread dough
  • Nationalities--stollen is German while vánočka is Czech. (Duh!)
Ingredients-wise, I pretty much stuck to the recipe except for a few tweaks. Shaping method-wise, I took the easy way out by shaping the dough like how you'd for a five-braid challah. This demo really shows you how to braid with five braids. (Honestly, I'm a girl who doesn't know how to braid! =P) Unfortunately ...

... I realized the bread dough was pretty wet! Geez ... I was stuck wrestling with it. =D At that time, I told myself: "I want my vánočka. You've come this far. Heck, just do it!" So, I braided the wet dough. The tragedy came when it expanded horizontally--out of control--into a flat-looking gigantic fat braid. (A total of 600kg of flour was used.) I wouldn't say it warped because I forgot to dock it in order to retain its shape. It was because of the super wet dough. Nonetheless, don't be terrified by that! I broke my own principle by using flour to dust my own hands and the working surface. Ah ha! That saved the day.

That Sunday evening, I was rewarded with a spicy and fruity aroma. The climax came when I sliced the bread and savored it ... releasing the spiciness I'd been craving for in a mince pie! (That doens't mean I'm a super fan of mince pie though. =P) The cake had really soft, spongy crumbs untypical of yeast bread. Its crust was surprisingly crisp with a crunch! I could go without the powdered sugar! Nom, nom! Still, I'd to microwave it to revive its softness beginning its third day on Earth.

Let me proudly present to you this "multi-bred" Jewish-Czech-German yeast cake. (Yes, I coined the word "multi-bred" because it ain't crossbred.) Here's my Christollenočka! Wishing you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR in 2010!

**You can try braid the dough with five braids like how I did. But to be fair to the author and you all, I'm just going to share the original recipe here along with my modifications. Enjoy!

Christollen/Stollen 圣誕史多倫麵包
Adapted from Bread Doctor, by Yvonne Chen 《65C湯種麵包》。陳郁芬 著

240g bread flour
60g plain flour (I used wholemeal flour)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used mixed spice)
30g plain castor sugar (I used brown sugar; hence, my yellowish-looking bread)
3g salt
6g instant dry yeast
Finely grated zest of half a lemon (this was an extra from me to make it Czech, optional if you want yours German)

135g milk
30g egg, at room temperature

90g unsalted butter, slightly softened

Adequate amount of flour, for dusting your hands and the working surface (don't be overzealous with it; otherwise, the texture will be affected adversely)

75g liquer-soaked raisins (mine was rum-soaked golden raisins), drained well
60g candied and/or dried fruit (I used a mix of diced dried apricots, dried cranberries and green maraschino cherries. Soaked all in water till plumped up, then drain them well before use)
30g slivered blanched almonds, toasted and let cool completely before use

Some powdered sugar, for dusting the finished product
  1. Combine (A) together and make a well in the center; stir in (B), then mix them altogether till you get a dough that pulls away from the sides of a bowl.
  2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and knead it with floured hands till gluten develops, i.e. the dough should be somewhat elastic but not smooth by now.
  3. Knead in the butter till incorporated, then gradually knead in (C), in 3~4 batches, until combined. Continue kneading till the dough is smooth and elastic, i.e. reaching the windowpane stage
  4. Round the dough up and place it into a large oiled bowl, then cover the whole deal with cling wrap and let proof till doubled
  5. Deflate the dough, then divide it into two equal portions, with each weighing at about 360g; round each up and cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes to relax the gluten
  6. Deflate the dough again. Working with one portion at a time on lightly floured surface, place the dough with its sealed side down. Next, flatten and shape each portion into a flat round of 1.5~2cm thickness--working with a lightly floured rolling pin helps, too!
  7. To each flat round dough, "flip" the discs of dough so that the sealed side faces you again. Then, fold it in half; with help from a lightly floured long rolling pin, press down in the middle and along the longer side of the half-folded dough to make a deep horizontal impression across
  8. Place the shaped dough onto greased baking tray(s)--with some room in between for expansion of the dough, then cover with cling wrap and let it proof again till almost doubled
  9. Bake it at 170C for 30 minutes or till it's turned golden brown; transfer to let it cool on rack completely
  10. Dust the stollen with some powdered sugar upon slicing to serve. Best served on the day it was made

December 22, 2009

5-4-3-2-1 Pork Ribs for Winter Solstice 冬至飯桌上的酸甜五一排骨

This week is officially the Christmas week. But, I ain't going to talk about Christmas for now. Some of you may know what this is all about.

For some reasons that I still haven't figured out, the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival always falls on Dec 22 of the Gregorian calendar (陽歷) each year. We Chinese call this day 冬至 (pronounced in Mandarin as dong zhi, or in Cantonese as doo-NG jee), which means "the arrival of winter." You may think I've just posted a ridiculously pointless question: doesn't winter officially start on Dec 22 every year!? Here's the deal.

What's surprised me is that dong zhi is so unique. It's so unique that most other Chinese celebrations don't always coincide with what's recorded in the Gregorian calendar. Well, that's obviously because we run according to the Lunar calendar (陰歷). A great instance is Chinese/Lunar New Year. (It's aptly worded as 農歷新年 among the southern Chinese and 春節 among the northern Chinese, which means "Spring Festival." This indeed demonstrates the cultural differences between the North and South of China: one celebration with two different meanings. Such fascination!) Another great one will be the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節).

The two aforementioned celebrations don't have a "fixed place" in the Gregorian calendar. Take Lunar New Year for example. We celebrated the First Day of our New Year on Jan 26 this year and we'll celebrate it again on Feb 14 next year. (Hey, it's going to be a two-in-one Valentine's!) Just like the West, Chinese also celebrate the coming of a new year. And yet, we can never ever have it together on the same day. Bah ... =(

The same goes to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Just like many other cultures that run according to the Sun, the Chinese celebrate the blessings that autumn brings. But, it can never be observed on one single day altogether. The Chinese harvest festival can be celebrated at a different time each year, ranging from sometime in between late-August and early October. Nonetheless, the point is it always falls on the fifteenth day of the Eighth Month in the Lunar calendar (八月十五).

Four Malaysian-Chinese students, including me, gathered and made some tang yuan for the dong zhi last year when I was still in the States. These are plain tang yuan to be coated in a mixture of sugar & roasted honey peanut to serve.

So, don't all these make winter solstice a rather unique cultural observation? Both the East and West are observing the same thing. And yet, we're doing it simultaneously this time! The Chinese have long associated the practice of eating glutinous rice balls with dong zhi. These chewy, sticky rice balls are known as 湯圓 (Mandarin: tang yuan / Cantonese: t-ONG yoo-WEEN). In Chinese, it literally has the meaning of "reunion" as "yuan" means round. For us, things are perfect as long as everything is round. =D Traditionally, tang yuan can be served plain as dessert in thin gingered syrup. They oftentimes come with sweet fillings, too, such as a mixture of sugar and crushed roasted peanut, sweetened azuki bean paste, black sesame or lotus seed paste. Of course, there are countless ways for you to serve them nowadays. I am more comfortable with the idea of sweet tang yuan. However, I often pout when the thought of savory tang yuan strikes me. I'd still eat savory ones ... not to the point of detesting them though, LOL!

Actually, my family isn't allowed to revel on any of these special occasions--not even on the coming Lunar New Year. We've been observing the Confucian (儒) practice of one-year solemnity to show our grief, love and respect for my late Grandpa who's just passed away peacefully on Father's Day this year. (OK, this is considered good enough. Back in the olden days, it was three years of solemnity!) I feel sorry that I couldn't be home to see him for the one last time. Just about three months ago, close to 40 of my Buddhist-Taoist family held a "celebration" to mark the 100th day of his "reunion" with my late Grandma. (I was already back in Malaysia from the States then.) We burned all kind of stuff for him ... Though I wasn't supposed to show soberness, I couldn't help but wept. To make it worse, I was the only one who did this!

To say the least, I'd still enjoy myself in the special occasions of different cultures, including Christmas. But, mine are always secular. PERIOD. That's to satiate my yearning to learn about different cultures. Deep down, I still remember my late Grandpa. And at the same time, my heart itches whenever I see pictures of tang yuan! =_="""

Nonetheless, that doesn't mean my family is "banned" from having a reunion dinner--or, I should say a good family meal that has more variety and is more interesting than usual. Family reunion dinner is part of dong zhi anyway. And to mark this special day, we just welcomed a new little life into our family last Thursday. We've been busy getting to know and cheer him up for that he's just been taken away from his mom. Poor dear! We absolutely heart you, Chevy!

This was how he took his nap on one afternoon! Hahaha ...!

He's just a pupp, looking for new toys around our house!

Probably, now is time of the year when most of us are getting ready for family reunion. And, food no doubt plays a great part. So, here's to share a great dish with you: braised pork ribs and hard-boiled eggs in sweet and sour dark soy sauce. You can also call it 5-4-3-2-1 pork ribs (五一排骨). I first learned to make this real QUICK and NO-FUSS, SIMPLE dish from one of my favorite sources of culinary ideas: 私家廚房 (meaning "Private Kitchen.") And, I've made this a thousand times since my days as a student abroad. It's my all-time favorite!

In Chinese, 五一排骨 literally means "five-one pork ribs." Why? The name of this dish is the formula! All we need are five main seasonings and two ingredients to create a symphony of flavors in the pork ribs. Overnight marinating and long hours of braising are the key to this sweet and sour meat that's so succulent and burst, full of flavors! Here's also where you can be more creative and frugal: utilize the great flavor of the marinade by throwing in a couple or more shelled hard-boiled eggs as you braise the meat. In a few hours, you will be rewarded with finger-licking pork ribs and braised eggs with bowls and bowls of fragrant steamed rice.

Again, there's no fast and fixed rule to Chinese cooking: everything is eye-balled. The following is just a recipe for reference, as indicated by the name of this dish. The seasonings can be easily found at any Asian grocers, too, if you happen to be living in a Western country e.g. the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe.

If you do celebrate the arrival of winter, here's to wish you a good day on Winter Solstice. In Chinese, we'd say, "過冬" ... meaning "to celebrate the coming of winter." I hope you can try this out and share it with your loved ones during this holiday season. 大家開飯囉!(Let's eat, everyone!)

Braised Pork Ribs and Hard-Boiled Eggs in Sweet and Sour Dark Sauce 五一排骨 ("Five-One" Pork Ribs)
Adapted from Winnie Leung's, from 私家廚房 

450 - 500g pork ribs -- washed clean, patted dry and cut into smaller square chunks

5 Tbsp water

4 Tbsp dark soy sauce 老抽
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine

Adequate amount of cooking oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed them with any one side of your knife (I use Chinese cleaver)
3 slabs fresh ginger

3 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and shelled
  1. Prepare the pork ribs as directed, then marinate them with (A) together overnight.
    **I place the mixture all in a bowl, cover it with cling wrap and then stick the whole deal in the fridge.
  2. On the next day, remove the mixture from the fridge
  3. Heat a saucepan/pot (that's large enough to hold everything) over medium-high heat till it's hot, then pour in some cooking oil and wait till it's pretty hot
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then throw in (B) to sauté till fragrant over the now gentler, slower heat
  5. Once you start to smell fragrance coming out of the sautéed garlic and ginger, dump in the pork ribs and marinade; stir the mixture continuously to cook them briefly (for 2 - 3 minutes)
  6. Stir in the 5 Tbsp water and hard-boiled eggs to the mixture, then mix them altogether just to combine.
  7. Slightly lower the heat and cover the whole deal with the saucepan/pot lid, then let it simmer to braise for 30 minutes--1 hour for the best result.
  8. Once it's done cooking, remove the whole deal from the heat. Now, scoop some of the pork ribs, eggs and the sweet-sour sauce over bowls of steamy hot rice! Serve!

December 16, 2009

Creamy, Velvety, Bittersweet Homemade Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Since my elementary school days, I've always felt a strong connection between me and languages, especially English. I can tell you for sure that though it's been fun and meaningful, the road of learning that's led me to what I'm today doesn't come easy and "on its own." The environment I've been living in (minus the days I spent in the U.S.), doesn't give me much opportunity to practice English. I interact with others in Chinese mostly. This may sound freakish to you, but I used to practice my English at places unimaginable e.g. when I was having shower, getting myself to sleep, watching TV, listening to songs and etc. Hahaha ...!

I never regret the road I took although peers around me back then often teased me. They even nicknamed me "banana-ish person," which is literally translated from a local Chinese term "香蕉人" (Cantonese pronunciation : HEE-ong Jee-Ewe YEE-aan / Mandarin pronunciation : xiang jiao ren). It's a derogative term that refers to a Chinese who looks Asian on the outside and white on the inside. I don't know if you get the point here as it may take some cross-cultural understanding to get the point. If not, oh well, forget about it. =)

So, all these efforts are starting to pay off as I now can speak four languages and write to earn a living. And yet, I began to realize people, who aren't in the field, have a false assumption of writers. They expect someone well-versed in a particular language to be able to come up with just about any type of write-up. Journalistic, corporate and creative writing are three different kinds of art. I think people can't transform a copywriter into a journalist or public relations officer overnight. People can't expect an English writer to be so versatile that he or she can write a press release, followed by copywriting for an ad and then, a technical write-up for consumer product. This is ridiculous and overdemanding!

What's worse, some people even regard writers as psychoanalysts who can "read minds." They can just ask you to produce an impressive and creative copy for, say, an employee appreciation letter--without providing the relevant context and details. Whenever that happens to me, I feel like as if I'm diving into a deep, dark pool without knowing what to expect. They are simply turning me into a creative writer who writes beautiful fictional lies! Oh, yes! Some people even take bilingual translation work a piece of cake! I was even asked to emcee an event. So, how would you define a writer?

Even when I blog, it always happens whenever my muse has struck with me interesting ideas (or so I think.) And, this is exactly the point of blogging--sharing! Good writing connects the many aspects of life together in a piece of writing and conveys certain message(s). Of course, I can only churn out words after words when I'm armed with information. I won't blog because everyone has a blog, wasting others' time through reading my nonsense. I seriously think blogging has improved my writing. At least, there aren't any gatekeepers but myself. =D

Anyhow, back to FOOD! (LOL!) I was initially surprised as I've not shared my ice-cream making experience with you. You probably see most ice cream recipes end with something like "Pour the chilled mixture into your ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions." In fact, I don't have ice-cream maker. Yet, I was VERY tempted to make my own ice cream.

So, I decided to venture into this sweet little niche of dessert making after research. Boy, it's sure been fun and satisfying though some workout is inevitable ... just like kneading a bread dough! For me, the process is messy, gooey, sticky and yet soothingly sweet. If you're machine-less, the churning process is what you should pay attention to then provided you have the basics. That's because as you freeze the custard (for ice-cream), ice crystals will form. When you have a churner to help you with that, you're guaranteed to get smooth, creamy, velvety ice cream. In other words, the churner keeps blocking ice crystals from forming as it beats the custard during the freezing process.

Nonetheless, our forefathers didn't have the luxury of enjoying what technologies can bring into our home. So, they could only churn ice cream by hands! Just remember to remove the half-frozen ice cream mixture out from the freezer to churn it every so often. This is to ensure a smooth, silky ice-cream that's preservatives- and additives-free!

So, my first ice cream entry here is none other than the all-time killer CHOCOLATE--chocolat noir! This super dark chocolate ice cream is egg-free. In this case, no custard (i.e. crème anglaise.) Less guilt, eh? It was perfectly sweet, creamy, smooth and DARK enough for dark chocolate fans. Highly recommended! In my next ice cream post, I'll share some awesome tips on ice-cream making I've learned from other bloggers. Why wait? If our ancestors could do it, so can we!

Hmm ... I served mine with fresh hand-picked raspberries from my family friends when I made this in the U.S. this summer

Super Dark Chocolate Ice Cream (Recipe shared by Pook and adapted from the Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

414ml (1-3/4 cups) chilled heavy cream
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
115g (1/2 cup) sugar
**I used less sugar, around 80g (1/3 cup)
1/8 tsp salt

85g (3 oz) unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped into small bits

59ml (1/4 cup) sweetened condensed milk
118ml (0.5 cup) whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine and heat (A) together in a saucepan--keep whisking the mixture as you heat it. Heat till it's come to a full rolling boil--foam will surface shortly thereafter
  2. Remove the hot cocoa-cream mixture from the heat, then stir in the chopped chocolate till melted. However, the chocolate won't melt away completely--you'll see tiny bits of it floating around the mixture. No worries!
  3. Stir in (B) and mix to combine, then blend the mixture in a blender to really combine them well for 30 seconds to also help dissolve the tiny chocolate bits better
  4. Then, cover and chill the mixture in the fridge till it's completely cold--should take at least 2 hours
  5. Remove the chilled chocolate mixture from fridge and using a hand/stand mixer, whip it till it's doubled in volume. Next, pour the whipped mixture into a container; send it to freeze in the freezer
    **I don't have my container covered all along.
  6. After 45 minutes or as soon as you start to see ice crystals forming around the edges, remove the cold mixture from the freezer and break up all the ice crystals with hand mixer, a sturdy whisk or spatula 
  7. Repeat step #6 every 30 minutes--keep stirring to "disturb" it as the mixture is freezing
  8. Check the mixture every so often e.g. 1 - 1.5 hours, stirring it as it freezes till the ice cream is frozen and set
  9. Transfer the ice cream into a container and cover it airtight till it's ready to be served
P.S. Here's a shout-out to Cheryl. Thanks a million for the pointers you gave me! The quality of the photos look way better!! Thanks, gal! =D

December 10, 2009

Pearl Balls of Hubei 湖北珍珠丸子

We are still in the midst of the week--just two more days to go till we get another weekend off!! So, I'm going to keep this concisely interesting (or so I think ...)

Growing up as a typical Malaysian-Chinese (馬來西亞華人), the good old (overused) saying "live to eat" holds true. My everyday food can be Chinese (duh!), Nyonya, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino (oh, boy ... loving chicken adobo, my childhood memory!), Thai, Japanese, Italian, French and more whenever I get to try out something new from other cuisines ... especially in my own kitchen when time permits. I'm dying to try out Korean food someday! Lately, I've been diagnosed with a Korean fever in my own head ... Sigh ...

It's so true that we can learn about one culture--at least the basics--starting from its food. Though Chinese are Chinese (漢人) (what am I talking about here ... =_=""), we still differ from each other depending on which part of China (中國) we can trace our roots to. This is especially true between the North, e.g. someone from Harbin (哈爾濱), and the South, e.g. someone from Hong Kong (香港). Great cultural differences probably arose due to the great distances between these two regions. The southern dialect Cantonese (粵語 / 廣東話) and the northern dialect Mandarin (北方話 / 普通話) are not mutually interchangeable!

I can say that based on my experience as a Cantonese (廣府人) who also speaks decent Mandarin, though it's often not difficult for me to pick up what the Northerners are saying, I can get stumped by non-Southern slang, too! I knew some Chinese-Chinese (if you get what I mean) when I was in the States, and they were from Harbin, Shenyang 瀋陽 (in northern China), Chengdu 成都 and Wuhan 武漢 (in Central China.) Yet, I found myself an embarrassment as I often got lost in translation! Just imagine the worse ... We were already using Mandarin to communicate with one another. What if we were talking to each other using our own dialects and slang? This situation can't be compared side-by-side to the conversational chemistry that sparks when an American from the Midwest talks to another American from the South. That's because they still can understand each other at least.

The differences can also be found in others such as the do's and don'ts in everyday life. Food is an interesting thing to look into as well! As a typical Cantonese, I wasn't too familiar with other Chinese regional cuisines. It was only after trying Sichuan food (川菜) that I know I ain't a big fan of it ... though I'd still eat it. For me, it's too spicy compared to Cantonese food (粵菜 / 廣東菜)--I can't taste the flavors of the fresh main ingredients.

I made these when I was still in the U.S.

When I saw Florence and so many other fellow Chinese bloggers made these, I immediately became fascinated by the cute, round shape of these little meaty appetizers. Pearl balls (珍珠丸子) are a classic of Hubei cuisine (鄂菜 / 湖北菜). These glutinous rice-coated meatballs are neither too greasy nor too heavily seasoned in taste. They are simple to be fixed and the ingredients needed can be easily found at most Asian or Chinese grocers (if you happen to be living in non-Chinese area.) Steaming (蒸), one of the healthiest ways to cook, is used in preparing these meatballs. They indeed represent Hubei cuisine very well: flavor retention 味, freshness 鮮, tenderness 嫩, resilience 爽, detail 細 and presentation 色.

Pearl Balls 珍珠丸子 (Adapted from Florence's)

150g glutinous rice 糯米, washed and soaked in water for at least 5 hours 
**Though long-grain type is used more often for this dish, I used the short-grain type that's more common in northern and central China as well as Taiwan (臺灣)

300g ground pork
**I used lean meat
5 pieces dried shiitake mushroom 香菇 -- soaked till softened, then squeeze out the absorbed water from the "fat" mushroom. Cut to remove the stems and dice the more edible part of the mushroom into really tiny pieces
3 stalks spring onion -- cut out the green part; reserve the white part. Then, wash and dice it up, set aside
**You can keep the green part for garnishing later on by simply dicing them up 
1 heaped tspful finely grated fresh ginger
1 - 2 Tbsp sesame seed oil 麻油
1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
**I used Shaoxing wine 紹興酒 
2 Tbsp light soy sauce 生抽
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder 五香粉 (optional, but highly recommended)
Dash of ground white pepper
2 tsp cornstarch

1 egg white
**I put it to room temperature
  1. Mix (A) together and set the mixture aside to marinate for 15 minutes
  2. Stir in the egg white into the marinated pork mixture. Using e.g. a pair of chopsticks, stir them altogether in ONE DIRECTION to incorporate and create a sticky consistency, which is a result of chemical reactions given out by the proteins in the pork and egg white. In Chinese culinary term, it's called 起膠 (pronounced as "HAY-Gow" in Cantonese or "qi jiao"/CI-jeeOW in Mandarin), which literally means "to produce rubbery consistency or stickiness"
  3. Cover with cling wrap, place the meat mixture to chill in the fridge for 1 hour
  4. Drain the soaked glutinous rice well in the meantime
  5. Two tbspful per meatball, shape the chilled meat mixture into rough round balls with help from two somewhat large spoons e.g. Chinese soup spoons. Then, drop each meaty ball into the drained glutinous rice and coat well; slightly press the rice into the surface of the meatball to make sure the rice doesn't fall off later on. Proceed till everything is used up
  6. Arrange the rice-coated meatballs onto plate(s) or steaming tray(s) that's lined with some Chinese lettuce or parchment paper (I used romaine lettuce.)
  7. Steam them over high heat for 20 -- 30 minutes till cooked through
  8. Serve the meatballs immediately fresh off the steamer!! You can eat them plain or with the following accompaniment dipping sauces:
    • For a gingery hot, sour and salty touch, combine some Chinkiang vinegar (鎮江醋) and thin strips of fresh ginger together
    • For a nutty and salty touch, combine 3 tsp light soy sauce and a few drops of sesame seed oil together--or to taste

December 6, 2009

Tarte aux Pommes au Pain de Mie (Toast-Point Apple Tart)

First of all, before I dive deeper into my rambling again, I'd like to say, "It's weekend FINALLY!" I can do what I love again, hurray! But, it's always amazed me how fast time can pass us by before we even start to take note of it. Whenever I took a quick stroll down my memory lane lately, I kept telling myself: "Geez, you were still a university student in March ... You were still a slow poke enjoying the slow paces of life in a small-town America in July ... Now, you are back in Malaysia and in the work force!" Year 2009 has been an amazing, unforgettable year for me, life-changing in a way ... Goodness! Can you believe we are only less than a month away from 2010!? Yes, it's true. Life's too short to live. So, do as much as you can and of what you like while you're still alive!

And, I've always applied this mentality whilst working my way in the kitchen. There are always recipes awaiting for me to try out from my super huge collection of cookbooks and from the Internet. (I just added another three cookbooks to my collection!) The downside is whenever I've bookmarked one recipe, I'll be distracted by another, oftentimes irrelevant, recipe. In the end, A plan will become Z plan LOL!! Though this scenario happens to me on most of my cooking-and-baking days, I still remember the one for this particular tart vividly even when it'd taken place ages ago while I was still in the States.

I actually bought Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets during my spring break trip at Disney World in Florida just this March. (Hopefully, I can share with you some interesting stuff I saw on the trip in my next post.) One of the first promises I made to myself after making the payment for this book was: "Try tarte aux pommes au pain de mie ... Try tarte aux pommes au pain de mie ..." This was a promise made in March. But, the tart itself came to life only two months after that. LOL! See, there are too many goodies out there!

Ever since I started my life as a novice in the kitchen, I've come to develop an intense passion and interest for French cooking and pastries ... though I've yet to try my hands on the cooking part. For me, French pastries equates to the word "versatility": They can be easy to challenging when preparing; they can be simple to elaborate in details. Yet, the end result never fails me! Ahh ... such a fascination!

Just like when I make French-style tarts, I do have some flops once in a while though my chances of succeeding tend to be higher. Tarte au chocolat, which was also made with another recipe taken from Paris Sweets, is a perfect example of my flops. I'll give it another shot eventually before sharing with you all the recipe. So, just be patient yea? (Pardon me for the lousy photos here ... they were all taken back when I was still shooting with point-and-shoot. But, the camera is NOT poor by any means! I still keep my point-and-shoot for certain purposes.)

Anyhow, back to tarte aux pommes au pain de mie, which means "toast-point apple tart" in English. All I can say this is not-your-average French apple tart! It will give you the ultimate tart-lover sensation! Imagine this with your first bite:

Buttery, nutty & slightly sweet sablé crust ---> lusciously rich, creamy & dreamy taste of crème caramel + vanilla-showered & caramelized apple chunks ---> nutty crunch from walnut pieces + sweet little surprises from raisins ---> sweet, buttery rich and nutty, sugared French toast

Are you salivating? Yes, this was the layering and play on tastes and textures I got from my bites of the toast-point apple tart! Simply loved it!! The only thing I did differently was I used homemade wholemeal bread rather than plain white one for the toast. This didn't affect the texture but only added more fiber to it LOL! Greenspan even said, "Consider the tart a tasty gift from Fantasyland." The tart is a symphony for the ultimate gastromical experience indeed! 

Tarte aux Pommes au Pain de Mie (Toast-Point Apple Tart) 
Makes one 26cm / 10-inch tart 
[Adapted from Lenôtre, in Paris Sweets, by Dorie Greenspan]

For the apples:

900g Golden Delicious apples
*Please stick to Golden Delicious! Granny Smiths and other tart apples are not recommended! We are talking about French apple tart, not American apple pie here!
30g unsalted butter

25g castor sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean
*I used 1/3 tsp pure vanilla extract--NO imitation vanilla please!
  1. Peel, quarter and core the apples; cut each quarter in half, set aside
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the bubbles subside, toss in the apple slices; cook and stir till the apples are lightly browned and almost cooked through.
    Sprinkle over (A), let cook while stirring until sugar caramelizes the apples. (If you're using vanilla extract, leave vanilla out totally for now; only stir in vanilla extract to coat well before dishing the caramelized apples out instead.) Then with a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a plate and let them cool till room temperature; discard the vanilla pulp. Set aside for use later
    The caramelized apples can be prepared up to six hours ahead--but do keep them lightly covered at room temperature.
For the toast:

30g unsalted butter, at room temperature
23g light brown sugar

4 slices firm white/country bread, with crusts removed if they are too hard
*I used homemade wholemeal bread without the crusts removed as mentioned. Greenspan even suggested cinnamon-swirl (raisin) bread works well, too!
  1. Preheat the broiler/grill in your oven, or you can make do with a toaster oven. Meanwhile, beat (B) together till blended
  2. Spread sugar-butter mixture on each side of the bread slices, then place them buttered side up on a nonstick baking sheet and toast the bread under the broiler. Turn the bread over to toast the other side.
    Cut each slice of bread in half on the diagonal and set aside to cool till room temperature
    *Obviously, I didn't adhere to what's described above LOL! My homemade bread loaf wasn't baked in a Pullman loaf tin as I didn't have one at that time ... So, my tart wasn't "toast-point" and looked random. =_=""
For the crème caramel: 

315g heavy cream 

1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
65g sugar
Pulp of 1/4 vanilla bean
*I used 1/3 tsp pure vanilla extract--NO imitation vanilla please!
  1. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk (C) together till thickens and looks slightly pale in a medium bowl
  2. Whisking the egg mixture gently all the while, gradually mix in the hot cream into the eggs--this is called tempering. Skim off bubbles if there is any; rap the bowl of cream-egg mixture against the counter to get rid of excess bubbles. Set aside 
To assemble: 

1 partially baked 10-inch / 26cm pâte sucrée tart shell (recipe here) 

20g walnut pieces
20g moist, plump golden raisins
*I used the dark-colored variety as that was what I had
  1. Place the parbaked tart shell onto a parchment paper-lined insulated sheet to get ready
    *Actually, I unmolded to cool my parbaked tart shell completely. Upon cooling and ready for further baking, I placed the cooled shell onto my nonstick tart pan again. So, I only further baked it on a "bare" insulated baking sheet.
  2. Line up the caramelized apple slices in parallel rows in the tart shell--have one row support the next and all the slices face the same direction
  3. Once the apples are in place, arrange the toast triangles decoratively among the slices next--with the broad base of the toast against the tart crust and the points up.
    *As you can see, mine doesn't look like what was described again LOL!
  4. Scatter over (D) across the toast layer, then discard the vanilla pulp and pour in one-third to half of the crème caramel--it will spill over if you have it all poured in now!
  5. Carefully slide the baking sheet into the oven to bake the tart on the middle rack at 165C/325F for 10 minutes. The cream should be set enough for you to pour in the remaining till it's reached the rim of the tart at this point--but, you may end up having leftover just like me =P ... (It's a good time to think of crème brûlée hahaha ...!)
  6. Bake for another 40-45 minutes/till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean--the cream should shimmy the way a quiche filling does
  7. Transfer the tart--still on its baking sheet--to a cooling rack and let it rest till just warm, when it's at its best!
    Best serve the tart the day it was made while still warm preferably.

December 3, 2009

Job's Tears Seed, Dried Beancurd & Gingko Nut Sweet Soup Dessert (Tong Sui) 白果腐竹薏米糖水

It's almost one week since my last entry here. Most of the time, it's not that I'm taken over by lazy bones; Oftentimes, I am too occupied with other things in life. Here's to thank you and whoever out there who take the time and read my every single word! You've made my day and I cherish every bit of it! Thank you! And if you've got any questions--or just about anything--that you'd like answered and that are within my capability to do so, please let me know! I shall try my best to help you. =)

It's amazing the impact little and simple things can make on our lives. People who know me for sometime have said that: "Pei-Lin, put more faith in yourself. I can't see the confidence in you." Just yesterday, a really good, kind-hearted colleague reflected the same thing to me. And with just this one sentence, I've been driven into a state of SERIOUS philosophizing again in almost four years--till now. (The last time was when I took a philosophy course with one of the best tutors in my life. Thanks, Dr. Bill Borges! It was the course that changed my life!)

I apologize, first of all, as I start to sound very philosophical and deep in my thoughts LOL! Frankly, I believe different people perceive a person of self-confidence differently. Words and pictures better express me. When I'm submerged in a crowd of people e.g. at a party, it is my reflex to quiet down and be somewhat inactive. Instead, I'd sit and observe people from one corner--of course, a little bit of talking and socializing is inevitable ... And, I don't mind that at all. It's just that when I've talked a lot, headache will strike me and that's when I call it quit.

So, for these past few hours, I've been wondering what's self-confidence. Does that mean that people who don't show their confidence explicitly are doomed for self-destruction? I can't answer that because there's no right and wrong in this world; we are living in a world of relativism. I believe it's my stance as an atheist and a Confucianist 儒家思想 (except for the sexist part) that guides most of my actions. That's why I believe you determine your own fate--along with some luck, karma and the Buddhist-Chinese concept of yuan fen (緣份.)

An atheist often lives on the more pessimistic side of life--BUT, that doesn't mean our thoughts are ruled by all things negative e.g. suicide and isolation, which is a bad stereotype anyway. We are only different due to our religious stance--we can be as moral as any other theists can be! Because of that, I appear somewhat unconfident to others with my silence and inactivity in the public. But, my reason behind is simple: I don't want to overestimate and overthink the given situation before time matures. In other words, don't count your chickens before they are hatched. (Thanks for the teaching, Steve!) It's just going to be yet another emotional upset if things turn out below my expectation.

And, I apply the same principles to my kitchen experiments, too! Mishaps and failures are inevitable. In fact, it's baking and cooking that have made me even more thick-skinned! It's part of learning. =) Here's a good example of my flops from this past weekend. It was still edible, but I won't say the recipe was good enough to be published now LOL! It was one of the compulsive experiments I did out of irrationality once in a while hahaha ...! Presenting to you, my FAILED verrines of coconut panna cotta, durian mousse and pandan gelée =P :


Oh, well ... Sorry for puzzling you with all these philosophical terms hahaha ...! At least, I feel I've let out my thoughts! Anyhow, I've been haunted by a cold and slight fever in the past three days, which explains my six-day absence from the food blogosphere. It seems like it's almost over now, hopefully ... Feeling sick has bogged me down and discouraged me from working in the kitchen. ="(

In many cultures, chicken soup and sometimes, chicken noodle soup, is often served to the sick. For us people of southern Chinese descent, we often fix some savory rice porridge (粥) to call it for the day--simple, quick and nutritious. What a comfort food! (Especially true with my family being half-Teochew [潮州] and half-Cantonese [廣府人])

However, I have a strange habit of fixing some sweet soup desserts, or tong sui (糖水) in Cantonese, when I want a sweet fix on sick days. Of course, I also make these traditional Cantonese desserts anytime my craving hits! Tong sui are one of the things many Cantonese start out with in the kitchen for the first time. Growing up, my favorites include tofu pudding (豆腐花), sweetened peanut and black sesame seed paste desserts (花生糊和芝麻糊), sweetened mung bean soup (綠豆沙) and azuki bean soup (a.k.a. red beans among many Chinese 紅豆沙), a Nyonya specialty bubur cha cha--and how can I not mention this: Job's Tears seed, dried beancurd and ginkgo nuts sweet soup dessert (白果腐竹薏米糖水!!)

Job's Tears seeds (薏米) are commonly and MISTAKENLY referred to as pearl barley among Asians. Actually sort of to my disgust, I was taught to call Job's Tears seeds as "barley" since the day I began learning to speak! Barley and Job's Tears seeds are of two different groups!! Goodness! I was very upset about my mistake when I found out the term "Job's Tears." As weird as it might sound to us, Job's Tears seeds are "barley" indeed because these grains resemble the shape of teardrop! Sigh ...

Dried beancurd 腐竹, of soluble type

According to the Chinese medicine, Job's Tears seeds and the soybean-based dried beancurd (腐竹) help you release the heat "pent up" in your body once consumed. As for the ginkgo nuts (白果), they are good for the kidney, help stop coughing and cases of asthma, boost your stamina as well as lower blood pressure--ONLY when they're eaten COOKED!!! Raw ones are especially poisonous because of the weak acid hydrogen cyanide concentrated within the green bitter core within each nut. So, make sure they're cored and cooked before consumption, and of course--consume in moderation. =) 

Ginkgo nuts 白果

I still remember how my American friends reacted to the idea of SOUP DESSERTS and the tong sui I cooked for them hahaha ...! Never in their world would they imagine desserts can be EXTREMELY RUNNY. It was very nice of them to at least give tong sui a try though they still don't like soupy desserts. *chuckling* I admire you guys for your cultural openness!

Rock sugar 冰糖

Fresh pandan leaves to be picked from my mom's garden, a common sight in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand & Indonesia

Here's my recipe ... erm ... or, I should say rough guidelines (i.e. estimation based on memory) for cooking Job's Tears seed, dried beancurd and ginkgo nut sweet soup. If you happen to be living in the U.S., Europe and other Western countries, you should be able to find the ingredients at most Asian grocers. Rock sugar (冰糖) is used to give the soup a mellower and richer taste as it's raw sugar. (Chinese even use it in braising meat.) Pandan (screwpine) leaves, or the vanilla beans for us in Southeast Asia, are used to give the more dimension with its unique fragrance. Seriously, there is no fast and fixed rule to it ... typical of Chinese cooking. Feel free to adjust and cook it to your taste by following your instinct. As long as it's sweet, it's tong sui. And if you're new to tong sui, why not give it a shot for a true cultural experience! =)

Job's Tears seeds, Dried Beancurd & Ginkgo Nut Sweet Soup Dessert (Tong Sui) 白果腐竹薏米糖水

100-150g dried Job's Tears seeds 薏米
50-70g ginkgo nuts 白果, or to taste

1.5-2 Liters room-temperature water, or more
*No worries, water will be slightly reduced as you cook due to evaporation mostly

3-4 fresh pandan (screwpine) leaves, knotted
**Well, it's optional as only the Chinese from Southeast Asia would include it into the cooking of this soup. But, its addition does make a difference. Sometimes, I also forget to add it, like this time! LOL!

30-40g candied winter melon 糖冬瓜, or to taste
**It was a way our forefathers used to preserve winter melon in the olden days ... I used to treat it as candies LOL!!

1-2 large sheets of dried beancurd 腐竹, torn into smaller pieces
**There are two types in the market: insoluble type and soluble type. Get the soluble one for tong sui

2 small- or 1 medium-sized rock sugar 冰糖, should 10g or less--or, adjust to taste
2 eggs, or to taste & at room temperature (optional)
**To make egg drop (蛋花), eggs have to be at room temperature

  1. Wash to clean Jobs' Tears seeds well by rinsing with water and draining them a few times--pick out the "bad" ones if there are any. Then, submerge them in enough water to soak them for about one hour aside
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the ginkgo nuts:
    • If yours come with skin on, blanch them in rolling-boil water for a 2-3 minutes; remove and drain them well from the water. Set aside to cool till they're cooled enough to be handled by hands. Next, peel off their skin--the blanching should have made peeling off the skin much easier. Slice each nut in half and remove the bitter green core; set aside (Hey, I learned these from the grocer! =D ...)
    • If yours were found in the refrigerated section at the grocer, the nuts have probably been skinned. If that's the case, you just need to wash them clean, slice each nut in half and remove the bitter green core; set aside. Less work, eh?
  3. Bring the water to a rolling boil in a big pot over high heat, then add in the soaked and drained Jobs' Tears seeds and pandan leaves to cook together--reducing the heat to low.
  4. When the grains look half-cooked (about 20 or 25 minutes,) add in the prepared ginkgo nuts and continue to cook the whole deal over low heat
  5. Add in the candied winter melon when both ginkgo nuts looks almost cooked, which should take about 20 minutes or less ... depends ..., then continue to let them cook for about 15 minutes or so, over low heat--place the lid over the pot to cook this time. Halfway through, add in pieces of the torn beancurd sheet and rock sugar
  6. When the rock sugar has completely dissolved and the beancurd sheets look "disintegrated" into REALLY TINY pieces--BUT, NOT to the point whereby it's completely "dissolved" into the soup--crack the eggs and slightly beat them up. Alternatively, you can cook till the dried beancurd has fully "dissolved" into the soup like how some people prefer theirs to be.
    It's time to make egg drop: while still having the heat turned on at low, slowly pour the beaten eggs down into the soup in a thin stream while going around, over the pot of soup in circular motions or zigzag pattern. You'll see tiny streaks of cooked eggs floating and flowing around in the soup in a few seconds.
  7. Immediately turn off the heat; discard the pandan leaves. Sometimes, I'd cheat though however LOL! That is, add more water to thin out the soup if you find the end product to be thicker (and slimier) you'd prefer it to be--also, adjust the sweetness to your taste again with rock sugar as the soup has been thinned out.
  8. Serve your tong sui hot, warm or chilled! I prefer mine warm, such a comfort food on a cold, rainy (and sick) day. =)
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