kruizing with kikukat

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Heart Tarts: Egg Custard Tarts

Today is the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, which means it is Moon Festival (a.k.a. Mid-Autumn Festival), the second biggest Chinese holiday. 

Unfortunately, Moon Festival in Hilo is not commemorated by a holiday.  When I was growing up, the United Community Church would host a Moon Festival dinner.  The Moon Festival banner would be displayed for weeks leading up to the dinner.  My parents would invariably have tickets, and we'd go to pick up food.  I remember there was tough and chewy kau yuk (steamed pork or pot roast pork) and sweet-sour spareribs on the plate, but neither were as good as homemade or the kind from Leung's.  I don't remember anything else on the plate, but I'm sure there was a round scoop of sticky white rice.  Mr. Dependable, whose family did the same (get tickets and pick up food), tells me the food was indeed less than memorable.

I suppose if we lived in Honolulu, we would've taken part in a more proper celebration...go out to eat, buy mooncakes, etc.  I know which restaurants would be on my list too.  Legend Seafood Restaurant or Hee Hing would be at the top of my list.  And I would go to Chinatown to Sing Cheong Yuan (formerly Shung Chong Yuein) to buy mooncakes and pastries.

street view of Harbor City Restaurant

Actually, I don't like mooncakes so much.  The kind we have in Hilo is either stale or preserved with more chemicals than the specimens in biology class.  I don't have a mooncake mold, so I really can't make my own.  So instead of mooncakes, I will be making another Chinese dessert. . .egg custard tarts.

I think it's a Chinese thing, but both Ds love gai dan tat (egg custard tarts).  Whenever we get to go to a dim sum restaurant, they will always get a plate of these tarts for dessert.  Unfortunately, the Ds weren't with me when I went to Harbor City Restaurant (Seattle).  The egg tarts there were the best I've ever had.  The custard filling was good, but it was the crust which made the Harbor City tarts outstanding.  It was the same pastry dough used for a barbecue pork pastry.  Crisp, flaky, light, and, I'm sure, filled with lard!

Because there is no handy-dandy dim sum restaurant where I live, I had to learn to make these tarts at home.  Of course, I don't have lard at home, and I think the idea of even buying lard grosses me out.  If I'm gonna clog my arteries, I will do it with butter.  I will be the first to admit that my tarts are nowhere close to the Harbor City tarts (the crust).  But its rather inconvenient, not to mention costly, to fly to Seattle just to enjoy a Moon Festival meal at Harbor City...or is it???

click on recipe title for printable reipe
(adapted from Judy Lew's Dim Sum Appetizers and Light Meals)

Crust (makes 18 2 1/2" tarts)

     1 1/2 c flour
     1 tbsp sugar
     1/4 tsp salt
     1/2 c butter
     2 tbsp Crisco shortening
     1 egg

Combine flour, sugar and salt.  Cut butter and shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand.  Add egg.  Mix well.  Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth.  Divide into 18 pieces.  Press each piece into a 2 1/2" tart pan.

Egg Custard Filling

     3/4 c milk
     6 tbsp sugar
     3 tbsp warm water 
     3 eggs, beaten
     1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine sugar and warm water.  Stir until dissolved.  Add milk, eggs, and vanilla and stir well.  Pour through a sieve to remove any solids.  Divide among lined tart pans, filling almost to the top.  Place filled tart pans in flat pan.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Cool for 15-20 minutes before carefully removing tarts from pans.

I had my first run-in with a teacher last week.  D2's teacher called, telling me she'd be receiving an F on her mid-quarter progress report for not doing an assignment.  I was puzzled because I had seen her working on it.  Furthermore, this teacher was named by D2 as "my favorite teacher", so the sting was even greater.  I was absolutely livid.  The teacher continued on, saying that she would be docking 5 points off for every day it was late.  By the time she called over 2 days had passed since the due date.  When I confronted D2, she produced the paper from her bag, complete with markings by the teacher.  WTF?!?  The teacher had forgotten that D2 had attempted to turn it in early!  I paid a visit to the teacher who, needless to say, was less than thrilled to see me.  She greeted me by saying that she was prepping for her class and had no time to speak to me.  But I apologized for my outburst on the phone and noticed that she had D2's paper on her desk.  By the time I left, 5 minutes later, we shook hands and hugged (Hawaiian style).  The teacher changed her mid-quarter grade to an A and added a smiley-face.  D2 said now her teacher knows her mom is crazy. 

Ending the week on the plus side, both HHS squads scored victories over the Kamehameha-Hawaii Warriors.
JV QB Tiogangco makes a run for it
In spite of never leading until the very end, the varsity won a thriller which went into overtime.  The game was filled with penalties, not all legit, called against HHS.  The most blatant happened in front of my very eyes.  The ball touched the ground before it was in possession, yet the visually-impaired ref called it complete.  #dumbass #goseeanoptometrist It was my first experience with 20-20 scoring. 
taking down the QB
#4, my favorite varsity running back


  1. Those tarts sure look delicious...wish I have some now with my coffee

    1. Thank you. My day is just beginning, and I wish I had some too. They are long gone now so I may need to make some tonight.