Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Seventh Daughter: Hen Party

You could cut the tension with a Chinese cleaver as the Tipsy Baker geared up for the Cecilia Chiang finale dinner last night. Fans gathered from distant lands, like Palo Alto and Clay Street, to partake of an elegant array of delicacies from Madame Chiang's excellent cookbook, The Seventh Daughter.

Among the fine dishes served:

-Tea-Smoked Game hens

-Sichuan spicy eggplant

-Green-onion oil-tossed noodles

"What an extraordinary dinner," said Checka (the Baker's mother). "You're amazing!"

"You really do like to cook, don't you," said Dita (the Baker's grandmother).

"I don't like the skin on the chicken," remarked Owen (the Baker's son).

"It's game hen," replied the Baker.

"They have a sort of carbony taste, but I like that," said Checka. "Mother, we'll have game hen sandwiches tomorrow!"

"Isn't this eggplant great?" said the Baker.

"It's too spicy for me," said Checka.

"Look at this dragon," said Owen.

The Baker prepared two Chinese desserts. Many people think they do not like Chinese desserts, but they are misguided, according to the Baker. And they definitely have not tasted glaceed fried bananas, a specialty of the cook in Chiang's aristocratic childhood home in Beijing.

These were, according to the Baker, a little tricky to pull off. But the end result was dramatic and delicious. With the nimble assistance of Checka, the Baker deep fried the bananas, swirled them in hot caramel, then plunged them into a bowl of ice water so that the caramel instantly hardened into a shell. There were some slight glitches, but these were a huge hit. Delighted guests bit into crisp, cool caramel and encountered meltingly soft, warm bananas.

"These are divine!" said Checka. "I should stop eating. I'm getting so full!"

"The caramel is very hard," said Dita.

"I love these!" cried the humble Baker.

If she works out some of the kinks, the Baker said she thought these bananas might qualify her for a job as a private cook in Beijing.

The last course was the Eight-Precious rice pudding. (See seven of the precious ingredients in the photograph at top; the eighth was canned red bean paste.) 

This was a weird and colorful dish, sticky and complex, the gooey glutinous rice studded with slightly bitter gingko nuts, dried fruit, and starchy lotus seeds. Over the whole pudding, the Baker poured a sweet syrup made from Chinese rock sugar.

"I'll take some home," said Checka.

"I'm not really that hungry later on," said Dita politely, after a tentative bite.

"Did you know cave men were the second stage of prehistoric life?" said Owen.

"I hope this has restored your faith in family dinners," said Checka.

"Yes," said the Baker. "Actually, it has."


  1. Thanks, Tipsy Baker, for your tips and your baking.

    What would be good would be video of some of the elaboration preparations.

  2. Thanks, Tipsy Baker, for your tips and your baking.

    What would be good would be video of some of the elaboration preparations.

  3. i like your blog later on.

  4. i like your blog later on.

  5. Has someone confused a hen party with a family dinner?

  6. It was a grand evening! I am a lucky lady to be included in weekly feasts, and I love every minute. Grandchildren, Mother and a daughter who turns out colorful, unique splendid food---often letting me take leftovers home. Tea smoked hens make perfectly elegant sandwiches. Rice pudding for breakfast? The payoff for buying the Tipsy Baker the Gourmet Cookbooks with her name embossed in gold for her 12th birthday?

    Thank you, Baker!