Grandma Ruby Tom and her grandkids Katherine, Marat, and Sean ring in the Chinese New Year together. Ruby prepares jai (here's her recipe), a healthy Buddhist vegetarian stew (and a good luck food!) that contains 16 ingredients. Each ingredient is separately wok-cooked, then added to the pot, making this a Chinese New Year labor of love. (Ruby also gave us her recipe for Chinese New Year cake.) Ruby was introduced to us by Chowhound Melanie Wong. Thanks, Melanie!
Basic Chocolate Mousse
Simultaneously rich and light, chocolate mousse just requires a little bit of finesse, and the freshest, best-quality ingredients (eggs, chocolate, and cream) you can procure. Be sure to chill your cream very well and get every speck of water out of the bowl and whisk you'll use for the egg whites, then use a light hand when folding in the whipped cream, and you'll have a perfectly fluffy and decadent dessert.
Easy Rice Pudding
A simple and supremely satisfying dessert, rice pudding is pure comfort in a bowl. It's easy to get there too! Just simmer white rice with whole milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt until the grains are tender, plump, and creamy, then stir in a little vanilla or almond extract while the pudding's still warm. Top however you like (fresh berries in season, dried fruit, toasted nuts for a crunchy contrast, a sprinkle of cinnamon, etc.) -- you really can't go wrong.
Oven-ready in just 20 minutes, these whole-grain donuts are much lighter in calories and sugar than the typical sour cream cake donut. Topped with a touch of glaze and nutty pecans, these delightful bites are a truly satisfying breakfast treat.
Sweet And Sour Sauce
This comes together in about the time it takes to order takeout, and is miles more nuanced than your average Chinese restaurant's sweet and sour sauce. Ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, and rice or cider vinegar are boiled together with water (though pineapple juice makes for a tasty tropical twist), and thickened to the perfect dipping consistency with a little cornstarch slurry. Serve this with egg rolls, wontons, rangoons, and whatever other fried foods you want to perk up. Feel free to add some heat to the sauce with minced ginger, garlic, or chiles (or all three).
Quick Bites: Richard Blais
Check out restaurateur, Top Chef winner, and cookbook author Richard Blais's honest opinions on a variety of ingredients (like ramps, sea urchin, and bacon), see if you agree with where he sides on classic food debates like cake vs pie and milk vs dark chocolate, and find out which kitchen tool you can pick up for a lot cheaper at a pet store.