I got Sunny Kwan’s secret fortune cookie recipe – and I am going to share it. Sunday night, the missus and me stopped off to take on a little ballast at the Keefer Court Bakery and Café at Cedar and Riverside before our pilgrimage to the annual Brave Combo Christmas concert at the Cedar Theater — you wouldn’t want to do the chicken dance on an empty stomach, don’t you know.
Keefer Court Bakery & Cafe, 326 Cedar Ave. at Riverside), 612-340-0937.
We ordered the beef chow fun and shrimp and vegetables with pan-fried noodles, which were both delicious) and then, as often happens in little Chinese hole-in-the-wall restaurants like the Keefer Court, we spotted the owner, Sunny Kwan, eating something that wasn’t on the menu – lobster. “You serve lobster?” I inquired. Yes, said the waitress – it’s a daily special – and handed me the daily special list, written in Chinese. Then she handed me the English version, which showed that in addition to lobster $19.99) they also had sea bass $12.99) and Vancouver Dungeness) crab for $15.99.
We soon learned that Keefer Court started serving a full Chinese menu at Cedar and Riverside after they moved the fortune cookie machinery into their expanded production facility at 26th and Minnehaha Ave. S. Carol casually mentioned that it would be interesting to see how fortune cookies are made, whereupon Sunny abruptly ran out the front door, returning a few minutes later with an 80’s era VCR in one hand, and a video tape in the other.
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It turns out that Keefer Court’s fortune cookie factory was featured on a 1997 segment of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — which is how I come to have the fortune cookie recipe. The video clip showed an employee putting about 200 pounds of flour that’s just a guess) into a giant mixer, followed by a big bucket of beaten eggs, and a smaller bucket of food coloring and vanilla flavoring.
When the batter is all mixed up, it gets squirted onto a heated metal conveyor belt, which bakes the cookies. While they are still warm and pliable, another impressive piece of gadgetry, imported from Osaka, Japan, blows the fortunes into the cookies, and folds them over.
Okay, I realize the amounts I have given here aren’t exact, and I missed the part where they added the sugar, but with a little experimenting, you should be able to figure it out. The tricky part, though, is assembling the little cookies. Or maybe it would just be easier to buy them by the bag $1 a dozen) at the bakery, which also offers a good selection of Chinese and Western cookies and pastries.