The Mailbox: Teri Watson

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6D

Chocolate cherry pie cake

I'm looking for a recipe for a chocolate cake made from a cake mix and cherry pie filling. Has anyone made this cake or one using other combinations such as applesauce with a spice cake mix? Thanks for any help with these recipes.

– Liz Sucht, Manteca

Bella Bru biscotti recipe

I was staying with relatives in Sacramento while here for business. My hostess gave me a chocolate biscotti from Bella Bru to enjoy on my drive to San Francisco. I couldn't believe how delicious this treat was. I ordered two dozen before I left and packed them in my suitcase to enjoy once I got home. These biscotti are about 6 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. They are crunchy and chocolate with bits of dark chocolate chips. The top is covered in a dark chocolate icing. Does anyone have this recipe or one close?

– Julie Adams, Huntersville, N.C.

Dinner My Way bread pudding

I am looking for the recipe for white chocolate cranberry bread pudding that was prepared at Dinner My Way. I had it at the Roseville store and the Elk Grove store, both now closed. They called it holiday bread pudding and it was only available around Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was delicious and easy to make, freeze and bake when needed. Thanks.

– Patrice Boyan, Roseville

Sour and hot soup (suan-la-t'ang)

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 5 minutes

Serves 6

Linda Greger of Gustine says the hot and sour soup served at Hunan Garden in Modesto is the best she's ever tasted. She's tried to duplicate it at home without success. She was hoping for their recipe or one similar.

Although we haven't received Hunan Garden's recipe, Anna Sinclair of Antelope shares this recipe that sounds like a close match for Greger.

You can find the ingredients for this soup at Asian markets or well-stocked specialty food markets.

Note: The prep time includes the 30-minute soak time for the dried mushrooms, dried tree ears and tiger lily stems.


4 dried black mushrooms

4 dried tree ears

4 dried tiger lily stems, optional

Boiling water, to cover

1 1/2 cups canned bamboo shoots

One 3-inch-square cake of fresh white bean curd

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1/4 cup pork or chicken breast

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

5 cups chicken stock, heated

Salt, to taste

2 or 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, to taste

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, optional

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon white or black pepper, freshly ground

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 scallion, including green top, finely chopped, optional

1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro, optional


In a medium bowl place dried black mushrooms, tree ears and lily stems (if using) and cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, cut off stems of mushrooms and the hard edges of the tree ears.

Cut black mushrooms and tree ears into thin, narrow slices. Shred the long, slender tiger lily stems with your fingers. Cut into 1-inch lengths. Set aside.

Shred the pork with a sharp knife or cleaver into long, narrow strips or, if using chicken breast meat, cut into cubes. Set aside.

Drain the bamboo shoots and bean curd, and slice or shred them as fine as the mushrooms. Set aside.

If more convenient, these steps may be done several hours or the night before making the soup. Put each in a small bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and hold in the refrigerator.

Heat oil in a wok or skillet and add pork or chicken. Stir to separate the meat pieces, add light soy sauce. Add the black mushrooms, tree ears, tiger lily stems and bamboo shoots.

Stir one minute and pour in the hot chicken stock. Taste and season with salt (pepper will be added later). Stir in 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Taste before adding additional vinegar. Some may not care for the soup if it is too sour. Add dark soy sauce, if using.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with water into a smooth paste. Stir into the soup. When thickened slightly, add bean curd.

Bring to a boil and boil for 3 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and allow to stand 3 minutes before adding sesame oil and pepper. Stir to blend. Heat soup tureen and pour soup into it. Gradually add beaten eggs in a thin stream, stirring as you do so. Sprinkle with scallion and cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately. May be refrigerated for two days and reheated or frozen up to 3 months.

Per serving: 176 cal.; 10 g pro.; 14 g carb.; 8 g fat (2 sat., 3 monounsat., 3 polyunsat.); 71 mg chol.; 292 mg sod.; 5 g fiber; 45 percent calories from fat.


If you have recipes in reply to Mailbox reader requests, or questions or comments, write to: Mailbox, c/o Taste, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. You also can email or fax (916) 556-5625. Please include your full name, your city and phone number.

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