Recipe: chinese egg custard tarts
Last week was a roller coaster of sorts. It began with a dry cough which led to various cold symptoms including me sounding like Kathleen Turner. As my cold progressed from my throat to my nose, we noticed that Kaweah was limping again. She seemed quite down and depressed, so we made a followup appointment with the vet. Then on Wednesday, Boulder Glass came up to replace our cracked window. That’s when things went to hell in a big ass hand basket.
The individual who came up to replace the window dropped the cracked 3×6 foot double pane window from 8 feet up in our great room when a gust of wind blew. There was glass EVERYWHERE and dozens of deep gouges in our floors (because why would any professional think to lay protective covering under scaffolding when doing work like this? He was rather cavalier about everything…). Winter was blowing into our house for an hour until the majority of the big pieces could be cleared away and the replacement window was installed. The fellow kept offering to pick up a replacement blind for us, to come and fix our floors, on and on. No. Please, JUST GO AWAY. I never want to see you (Boulder Glass) again. EVER.
We’ve been spending the last four days clearing out slivers and specks of glass from every possible corner, rugs, book cases, couch cushions, to make it safe enough for Kaweah. We were both feeling very low Wednesday night because Kaweah wanted to come out of the office (the only place that was guaranteed free of glass on the main floor), but had to remain there all night while her nemesis, the vacuum, did its job.
Thursday, we took Kaweah to the vet who looked at her still-swollen toe. I try to be realistic, so I was bracing myself for the worst-case scenario at the vet. He carried her to the back for an x-ray to see if the bone was spongy or broken. We waited in the room while we heard him tell her, “Well, you’re being such a good girl. Just hold still for one second while we take your picture.” In five minutes, he brought us back to see the x-ray. It was neither broken nor cancer! Doc Newton prescribed a round of beef-flavored chewable antibiotics to help Kaweah’s toe heal and he gave her several extra treats.
Kaweah has been quite spunky ever since Thursday, with more energy and mobility than she’s had in a month. Sometimes I’m convinced that it’s not medications she needs, but a visit with Doc Newton and a handful of generic dog biscuits to buoy her health and well-being. Whatever it is, I’ll take it.
As my cold and the week wound down, I attempted a recipe that I wanted to test drive before Chinese New Year. The lunar new year falls on January 31st, which means a lot of celebratory dishes will be prepared and consumed on the 30th (the eve) and the 31st (the new year) in our house. If you’ve ever been to dim sum, you’ve likely encountered the Chinese egg custard tarts next to the mango jello and fried sweet sesame balls. These are a childhood favorite and an occasional adulthood indulgence for me. Egg custard tarts come in two forms – the first has a short crust pastry and the second has a flaky layered pastry. I like both, but I prefer the flaky pastry, so that’s what I set out to make.
water dough: water, salt, shortening, flour
fat dough: shortening and flour
custard: hot water, sugar, salt, evaporated milk, vanilla, eggs
Making the flaky pastry is a little like making puff pastry from scratch, except shortening or lard are used instead of butter and the process involves two doughs rather than the détrempe (water dough) and fat (butter). And instead of creating a large sheet of puff pastry, here we roll out each individual tart pastry.
make the fat dough: cut the shortening into the flour
the blended fat dough
mix the water dough ingredients
knead until smooth
**Jump for more butter**