Sunday, January 29, 2017

On the Homefront: 2017 Year of the Rooster Table

Dalmatian Dixie Chick celebrated the Chinese New Year with her
favorite rooster pal!

The Chinese New Year started on January 28th this year.  Yesterday was the beginning of the Year of the Red Fire Rooster, so my table for the holiday had to feature this flamboyant fowl!  For a slightly different approach, I decided that my theme would be "Eastern New Year Meets Western Country", since chickens are so popular in country-style dΓ©cor, especially where I live in Georgia!  Red is also a pretty popular color choice for both styles, so there is an inordinate amount of red on my table (apparently it would be unlucky to wear red, however, and you should instead choose complementary colors like brown and yellow for apparel).  Fire, which of course is important to everyone at this time of year in particular, is represented by a scattering of candles in the tablescape.  Now if only such harmonious co-mingling could occur in the real world as well as it does on my dining room table!

Bodrum red fabric Tuscany Rooster Placemat (bought years ago); BHG Amity Dinner Plate in Ivory (from Walmart last year); Certified International Vintage Rooster CanapΓ© Plate (from Amazon); red napkin; Cuisinart French Rooster Flatware (from Amazon); clear water glass (bought so long ago I have no idea where they are from or who made them); Home Essentials Tuscana Red Stemless Wine Glass (from Marshall's last year).

The other three appetizer plate designs:

A closer look at the rooster flatware handles (and rooster place mat).

Tea is waiting to be served at the head of the table (your choice of
black or green).

I do not own any rooster dΓ©cor, but I do have a bright red ceramic hen,
so here she is as the centerpiece (after all, we know who is really in charge
for any species, right?).  Instead of eggs, she is surrounded by orange
tangerines, which symbolize good luck and wealth.

My version of a traditional tray of togetherness to offer to guests.

My tray of togetherness includes coconut chips (togetherness), peanuts (longevity), dates (sweetness in the New Year), candied ginger (good health), pumpkin seeds (fertility), candied pineapple (prosperity), macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts (the latter two simply because I had them and did not have time to find more traditional offerings!).  The tray is surrounded by ingot-shaped, gold-wrapped chocolates to represent wealth and prosperity.

Naturally my menu had to feature poultry-based foods!  Chinese takeout from our nearby local restaurant consisting of chicken and egg dishes comprise the meal, and I even attempted to make Chinese egg tarts (dan tat), a popular dessert selection in dim sum restaurants.  My custard filling did not set the way it should have, possibly because I used cashew milk instead of regular milk, but the low-carb almond crust was perfect and the end result was still tasty (I have included the recipe if you would like to try your luck at making them).

2017 Year of the Rooster Menu:

Egg Rolls
Egg Drop Soup
Chicken with Broccoli
Chicken Lo Mein
Chinese Egg Tarts*
Hot Tea

*Chinese Egg Tarts

1 C. almond flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 T. sugar
1 T. cold butter
1 egg, beaten (reserve half)

1/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. water
1/4 C. milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Thoroughly blend together the first three crust ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the butter and half of the beaten egg.  Cut into the dry ingredients until the butter is incorporated and the dough holds together (these steps can be done in a food processor).  Press the dough into the bottoms and up the sides of four muffin pan cups (you can use a tart tamper, but I could not find mine and used the bottom of a spice jar instead).  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.  Loosen the tart shells in the cups but leave in place.

Combine the sugar and water for the filling in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then cool to room temperature.  Combine the remaining egg from the crust ingredients with the egg for the filling.  Strain through a fine sieve into the cooled sugar water.  Stir in the milk and vanilla.  Strain again and fill the tart shells almost to the top (I had a lot of extra filling).

Bake the tarts at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (watch for puffing of the filling as this may mean that the oven is too hot).  Open the oven door slightly and bake 5 minutes longer, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean.  Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, and serve.  Serves 4.

Notes: In the original recipe, the crust recipe is supposed to make six tarts, but I found that the shells were too shallow, and should probably have only made four.  Also, the crust tends to puff up when baking with the filling inside, so it may be a good idea to prick them with a fork before filling (although this may cause the filling to leak through the bottom a bit).  Straining the filling mixture through a sieve helps to prevent bubbles and puffing of the filling while baking.  I did halve the original recipe, so it is easily doubled (use one egg for the crust and three for the filling).


From Stock News USA

Here's hoping the Year of the Red Fire Rooster will be a good one!

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