Pineapple Tarts (鳳梨酥)

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For this month’s Secret Recipe Club I was assigned Shirley from Enriching Your Kid, who is a clinical psychologist-slash-homemaker that chronicles her family recipes and cooking experiences through her blog. There were a few recipes I was thinking about making, especially Mint Chutney, Dal Lentils, and Chole Chana Masala. I had been itching to bake something so I zoomed in on pineapple jam. I was thinking about all the ways I could use the pineapple jam: pineapple cookies, swirled into banana bread, plain on toast, and pineapple cakes.

The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival was in the month of October so I already had Asian sweets on my mind. Pineapple cakes (sometimes called pineapple tarts) are all over Asia and each region has its own special format. The Taiwanese version is named s Fènglísū (鳳梨酥).

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I really enjoy eating pineapple cakes, but the store-bought kind tend to be dry and the filling lacking in flavor. making your own pineapple filling allows you to control the texture, spices, and sweetness. I switched out the cardamom in the recipe for ginger and cut down the sugar, cooking it down until it was nice and thick.

The dough for these tarts comes together quickly and is ridiculously easy. There are only 3 ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, flour, and egg yolk. I busted out my wooden mooncake molds that I picked up in Chicago’s Chinatown years ago and brushed them with an egg wash mixture before filling.

Eaten warm, the dough is thick, buttery with a nice tender crumb. The filling is the perfect consistency that doesn’t ooze out when you bite into it but is soft enough to mix with the dough in each bite.

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Garlic, Ginger & Honey Chicken

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This month’s decision to choose a recipe from Lavender and Lovage for Secret Recipe Club was an easy one. When I saw Karen’s Chinese Garlic, Ginger & Honey Chicken, my mind was made. It’s incredibly fast and healthy. We served this atop of some noodles and napa cabbage we picked up at a local market and it was quite satisfying. We also doubled the recipe because it keeps well for lunch leftover. If I were to make it again I would up the spice and maybe add some nuts.

Karen was born in South Africa brought up in rural England. She was greatly influenced by her grandmother and mother and is  currently writing a cookbook based on her British cuisine research. Head on over to Lavender and Lovage to browse her extensive recipe collection or check out the other SRC posts from this month below.
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Kung Pao Chicken

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For October’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired up with Nora from Natural Noshing. Nora is about the same age as me and has “a passion for nutrition and eating natural, real food — nothing too fussy, over-processed or complicated.” The fact that she avoids gluten and limits her sugar intake seemed a bit daunting at first (I am, after all, a carb-avore that loves sweets), but my worries went away when I started perusing her recipes.

Between Almond Joy / Mounds PancakesChicken Vindaloo, Fire Roasted Chicken Enchiladas with Squash and Red PeppersKickin Cashew Chicken, Red Thai Tofu CurryPineapple Upside Down Cake for One, and Spicy Kabocha Soup, I’ve bookmarked quite a few recipes to try out later.

One of our comfort foods during while were were dating was Kung Pao Tofu from a local Chinese restaurant. Because of this, it wasn’t hard for my husband to decide on this dish as his SRC pick. Not only did he pick this dish, but he also made it for us one day while we were working from home together.

This recipe won’t solve your craving for Chinese take-out style because it is much lighter and less greasy. It tastes fresher, especially with the crunch of the red bell peppers. Since the dish is relatively easy and quick to make, next time I’d like to try boosting up the spice as well as swapping the chicken for tofu.
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Singaporean Curried Vegetable Noodles

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For this month’s Secret Recipe Club I got to take a mini trip around the world with Tara’s Multicultural Table. Tara actually has a similar background to me, including Filipino, Japanese, German, and the Southern United States. Her passion for different cultures through food is apparent through her delicious blog. Looking through her recipe index was painful — there were so many things that I wanted to make, how could I choose between Northern Thai Curry, Mango Cinnamon Basil Smoothie, Afghani Kebab with Gravy, Macarons with Vanilla Cream Cheese Filling, Yaki Udon, Cong You Bing (Scallion Pancakes), or Sichuan Wontons in Chili Sauce.

My decision was made instantly easier when I spotted her recipe for Curried Vegetable Noodles.

One of our favorite dishes to get when we order takeout or visit the local dim sum restaurant is Singaporean Curry Noodles. It has the perfect level of spiciness (flavor, not heat) and the little nuggets of meat and vegetables break up the monotony of the noodles. I was a bit lazy and used some stir fry vegetables and packaged sauce from Trader Joe’s, but I counter-acted that laziness by topping the noodles with some home-grown Thai Basil.

To make it closer to the takeout version, throw some chicken, pork, or shrimp in with the noodles. Or, as my fiancé suggested, the addition of some egg would add a nice amount of protein.

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