I’m really excited about my book launch for Guitar Hero which will take place tomorrow, Saturday, November 9th at Babar Bookstore in Pointe Claire. I’ve been busy all week getting ready and planning what refreshments to serve. Since the story is about a Chinese family, I thought I’d bake almond cookies. My favourite recipe is from The Joy of Cookies by Sharon Tyler Herbst. These cookies don’t look like the ones you get in a Chinese restaurant after a meal, but they are yummy! I’ve brought some to work in the past and they disappear quickly.
Almond Cookie Recipe from The Joy of Cookies
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup lard, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
About 48 whole blanched almonds
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water for glaze
1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat lard, sugars and almond extract until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir in flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, blending well after each addition; dough will be very soft. Spoon into the center of a 15-inch length of plastic wrap. Fold long sides of plastic over dough. With your palms, roll wrapped dough into a log 12 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. Twist ends of plastic wrap to seal. Freeze or refrigerate until firm, 1 to 4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 to 4 large baking sheets. Cut chilled dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange, 1-1/2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Lightly press a whole almond into the center of each cookie. Brush rounds with egg glaze.
3. Bake 11 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week; freeze for longer storage.
When I was a kid, my parents owned a Chinese-Canadian restaurant called Lee’s Garden. It was located on Park Avenue near Laurier Avenue in Montreal. I started working there on weekends when I was in elementary school, helping my mother make egg rolls or bagging take-out orders. By the time I was in high school, it became a full-time summer job. I answered the phone and handled the cash register. The restaurant was like a second home. The waiters and cooks became extended family and regular customers became old friends.
Then one day my parents told me something that shocked me to the core. Nothing on the menu was real Chinese food, they said. The butterfly shrimps, chicken chow mein, pineapple chicken, and everything else was invented for the ghosts, the red-haired devils. The news hit me like a lightning bolt. How could that be? Chicken Soo Guy, won ton soup and egg rolls were my comfort food! They were fake?! If the food was fake, then what did I know about being Chinese?
The restaurant’s most popular dish and one of my favourites (and still is) was Dry Garlic Spare Ribs. The tender, melt off the bone ribs with the sweet, sticky sauce was on almost every order. The recipe is one of the few things I have left of the restaurant and I’ve decided to share it with those who made the restaurant a welcoming place, a place where Sunday dinners became a part of their family traditions, where special occasions were celebrated and where the regulars dropped by for a cup of coffee, a piece of pie and friendly banter. You. The public.
Lee’s Garden closed in the early 1970s, but it remains forever in my heart. If you or anyone you know frequented the restaurant, please write a comment. I’d love to hear your story.
Lee’s Garden Dry Garlic Spare Ribs
(A Chinese-Canadian classic)
3 lbs. pork spare ribs
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1 to 2 quarts boiling water
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup white sugar
- Wash and cut the ribs into bite size pieces. Trim excess fat.
- Heat a large frying pan or wok on medium high heat. DO NOT ADD ANY oil, butter or margarine as this will produce an oily film on the ribs.
- Stir fry ribs until they are an even light brown color. Keep stirring to prevent the meat from sticking to the pan. Drain the juice from the pan.
- Add garlic and continue to stir fry for five minutes.
- Sprinkle the soy sauce over the ribs and continue stir frying on medium for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Pour boiling water into the pan until the water just covers the ribs.
- Sprinkle the salt over the ribs and stir. Cover and boil on medium high for 10 minutes.
- Add sugar, distributing it evenly over the ribs. Cover and boil on medium for 20 minutes.
- The ribs should be very tender. If not, continue to boil for a few more minutes.
- The sauce should be thick and brown. If it is still too watery, leave the cover off, allowing some of the water to evaporate. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of boiling water.
It’s not what you think. Or maybe it is.
I can’t remember who gave me the recipe for this chocolate dessert, but it’s been in my binder full of recipe clippings for years. I made it for a girls’ potluck supper yesterday and it was a hit.
SEX IN A PAN
- 1 cup chopped nuts
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 3 tsp. sugar
- 1 pkg cream cheese (you can use a low fat version)
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 large tub Cool Whip
- 1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding
- 1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding
- 2 cups milk
You need a 9×13 inch pan, lightly greased.
- First layer: cut butter into flour, add nuts and sugar; spread into pan. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool.
- Second layer: Mix cream cheese, icing sugar and Cool Whip together with an electric beater; spread over first layer.
- Third layer: Mix chocolate and vanilla pudding powder and milk with electric mixer; spread over second layer.
- Fourth layer: Spread Cool Whip over top.
You can grate some chocolate over top to decorate.