ONE WEEK INTO THE CHINESE NEW YEAR
We are a little more than one week into the Chinese New Year, and despite what my horoscope for the new year suggests, so far so good. I would like to think the mini strawberry pies I made on the first day of the Chinese New Year brought me good luck. These mini pies are simple to make, dairy free and filled with strawberry love.
This year is not a very good year for the Rooster. I am in for a year of bad luck, hard work for little reward and poor health. My romantic life, on the other hand, should be okay. In any case, this is the year of doing more and speaking less, and I will fill the next 365 days with lots of self-encouragement. What is your Chinese zodiac? What does 2017 have in store for you?
China holds a special place in my heart. I spent nearly two years living and studying Mandarin in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, a city 250 kilometers north of Shanghai. It’s a place where I grew tremendously, learned more about the world than I could have ever imagined, met Pepe, made several meaningful friendships, and I even dyed my hair pink!
I have been told that when the zodiacs predict bad fortune, you should wear as much red (or pink) as possible. In China, red symbolizes good fortune and joy making it a very popular colour, especially in the new year.
This time last week, Pepe and I made a mix of Chinese inspired pies and to keep the bad luck away, we used the brightest red strawberries. The shape of these pies resemble the same shape Chinese dumplings (饺子，包子) have however the tastes are completely opposite. Chinese dumplings are savoury, typically boiled or fried, and filled with vegetables and meat whereas my mini pies are sweet, baked and filled with strawberries.
MINI STRAWBERRY PIES
Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Makes: 12 pies
- 1 egg
- 150 grams margarine, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 220 grams flour
- 12 – 18 strawberries
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- squeeze lemon juice
To make the dough, mix the margarine and sugar. Then slowly add the flour. Knead well to ensure all the ingredients are well blended. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
For the filling, wash and slice the strawberries. In a small bowl, gently and slowly mix the flour and sugar. Add a small squeeze of lemon juice for taste. Leave the strawberries out for 5 minutes to soak the flour and sugar.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, stretch the dough to 1 – 2 cm thick. Using a cup or bowl as a stencil, cut circles out of the dough.
In the center of the circle, add a small amount of strawberries. Fold the circle either in half or pinch and then twist the edges together to make a small ball. If you decide to do the latter, the ball will untwist in the oven and make a “galette” pie).
With a fork, beat the egg and add a splash of water. Using a baking brush, gently paint the pie in the egg. Cover an oven tray in parchment paper and place the pies at least 8 cm away from one another, a little more space if you make the balls.
Cook for 25 minutes or until golden. Remove and let cool.