Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pumpkin Cookies

Happy Halloween


Sugar Cookies

• 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 stick butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


Day one:
• Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into small bowl.
•In a larger bowl cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Mix in the egg. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk and lemon extract and blend. Cover in wrap and chill overnight.

The next day:
Preheat oven to 400°F .
Cut off a piece of dough and roll out on a floured dry surface.

Add more flour to the dough until no sticking occurs.

Use your favorite cookie cutters than transfer shapes to a greased cookie sheet.
Bake for seven to ten minutes.
Let cookies cool before frosting with glaze icing
Glaze Icing

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
food coloring

Stir confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, and water together. Stir in food coloring if desired.
This glaze must be stirred each time you use it.
If it is not stirred before each use it will dry with a mottled look instead of a solid color.
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Monday, October 29, 2007

Ayam/Pork Buah Keluak

I have seen this special 'buah' which means 'fruit' in malay many a time as a cooking ingredient and have always wondered how it will taste as everyone who have tasted it raved about it. After 62 years, i finally had the opportunity to make this curry when my friend, Agnes, who had just came back from Singapore, gave me a dozen. I had to agree that this Buah Keluak or Indonesian Black Nuts undeniably, ambrosia among Nonya dishes is an acquired taste. The taste is indescribable and has to be eaten to be believed
To the uninitiated, buah keluak is a black nut from Indonesia about the size of a misshapen golf ball. The surface is ridged with a smooth nut 'mouth' across the flattest part. A slit is made in this mouth through which one scrapes out the contents which have been variously described as 'opium' and soft tar'. . Good nuts, when cooked, should be richly black and oily.

To prepare Buah Keluak or Indonesian Black Nuts, wash and scrub throughly until the thin film of dried mud they come in is completely gone. A proper and crucial step in cleaning is desired otherwise the gravy will be not be good eats. Soak in a large pot of water over-night or for at least six hours. An even quicker method is to boil the keluak for 15 minutes, which, I'm told by friends, works just as well. Most recipes will suggest that the contents of the nut be dugged out, to be mashed and mix with egg whites for binding. An addition of ground pork/chicken or prawns can also be added and then this mixture is stuffed back into the nut shells. However, really authentic , according to Agnes, Buah Keluak is cooked with the insides of the nuts and are served neat, in all their bitter glory. The resulting curry is literally black, with a slight orangey sheen of oil that you will either love or hate. To me, it was love, thank you Agnes for giving me the chance to experience the buah keluak's glory. I was also told that if not properly prepared for cooking, the nut is toxic and since all my friends who tasted my dish are still around and kicking, i am glad i did not kill anyone.


30 buah keluak(i had only a dozen that's why my gravy is not black
3 lbs chicken pieces
1 1/4 lb pork ribs - cut into bite size
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12 ozs garam assam paste (recipe is at bottom of page)
3 ozs tamarind saked in 6 fl ozs water, squeeze an strain
1 - 11/2 tsp salt
32 fl oz water

Soak nuts in cold water for at least 6 hrs or overnight.
Brush nuts t remove mud and sandy particles.
Crack where nut is smooth.
Marinate chicken pieces with 1 tsp salt and pepper for 1/2 hr.
Heat wok with a tsp of oil and brown chicken pieces.
Remove chicken pieces and add in more oil. Add in the garam assam paste and saute until fragrant.
Add the tamarind juice and bring contents to the boil.
Add in the pork ribs and saute well. When contents come to a boil ,reduce the heat to medium, cook the pork ribs for 1/2 hr covered.
Add the nuts and the browned chicken pieces. Continue to cook for another 1/2 hr, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked and pork ribs are fork tender.
Serve with white rice.

3 ozs sliced galangal
3 ozs sliced lemon grass
2 -3 ozs candlenut/buah keras
4 ozs shrimp paste/belacan
6 ozs fresh red chillies

12 ozs shallots
1/4 - 1/2 oz tumeric powder
1/4 oz chilly powder or 10 - 16 dried chillies, cut into small pieces, soaked in hot water until soft, drained(add this to A)
6 fl ozs cooking oil for frying

In the food processor, grind A into a fine paste, then add in the rest of the ingredients. Blend well.
If using the blender, put all the ingredients in including the oil and blend to very fine.
Pour blended ingredients into a microwable bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes, stir and continue to cook on high until oil surfaces and paste is fragrant and almost dry.
Paste is ready for cooking but it has to be completely cooled before packing in airtight freezer containers.

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Rainbow Agar Agar

It's a refreshing dessert, a perfect finish to an Asian meal, especially after heavy stuff like curry. It's served cold, so it's great for summer too. It is easy to make and oh so impressive to serve.


The Transparent Layer:
2 tbsp agar agar powder
1200 ml water
200 gm castor sugar
Colorings - green is a must and i use pandan paste, it not only gives the green, it fragrants the whole jelly.

The Coconut Milk Layer:
2 tbsp agar agar powder
400 ml concentrated coconut milk
800 ml water
200 gm of castor sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1. Boil above ingredients for the transparent layer except colourings till dissolved. Sieve mixture and return to pot. Leave it on the stove on the lowest heat or doubleboil to keep the mixture warm until the coconut layer is ready for assembling.
2. Boil the agar agar, sugar and water for the coconut layer till dissolved, then add in coconut milk and salt. Sieve mixture and return to pot. Leave it on very low heat .
1. Measure about 250 ml of transparent agar agar and colour it in the colour you like. Leave it to harden slightly(not too hard if not the jelly will not stick together. If too hard, just use a fork to lightly scratch the surface before adding the next layer.)
2. The second layer will be 250 ml of the coconut milk agar agar. Leave to harden slightly
Do the same alternating between the transparent layer and the coconut milk layer until all the agar agar have been used up.
3. Leave the whole jelly to cool down before refrigerating it for at least a few hours.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rempah Udang

This is a Straits-born Chinese Wedding Speciality and it is a dumpling filled with spicy prawns. Another version is called Pulut Panggang of which the filling is different, dried prawns are used instead of fresh prawns. I was asked by a friend to translate a recipe in malay and it is called Pulut Lepa. I have not heard of this one before and i guessed the name changed cos this filling has fish meat. I have added a picture of the sushi mould used to form the cylindrical shape.


1 1/2 lb glutinious rice - wash and soak overnight
350 ml canned coconut milk(do not shake the can and use only the cream)
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 pieces pandan leaves tied into a knot


1 lb prawns - peel and chop fine
8 ozs grated coconut
2 tsp coriander powder
8 shallots
1 lemon grass, slice very thinly
3 cloves garlic
pinch of kencur powder
1/2 tsp salt


banana leaves cut into 6" x 3" wash, wipe dry and greased.
Sushi mould


Place glutinious rice in a muslin lined steamer with the pandan leaves. Make steam holes with the handle of wooden spoon and steam over rapidly boiling water for 20 minutes.

Remove glutinius rice into a saucepan. Pour in the coconut milk, salt and sugar and mix well. Cover saucepan and let sit for 5 minutes.

Return to steamer and steam for another 15 minutes until cooked. Cover to keep warm until ready to assemble.

To cook the filling:

Grind shallots, lemon grass, garlic to a fine paste, then add in the coriander powder and kencur.

Fry grated coconut in a very dry pan until brown and frangrant. Do not over-fry until oil is extracted. Put aside.

Heat oil and fry the ground ingredients until fragrant. Add the chopped prawns and salt. Stir well until ingredients become dry. Finally add in the coconut.

To assemble:

Using the sushi mould, press in glutinious rice making a trench for the filling. Put a spoonful of filling in the trench and top with more glutinious rice and press down to form into a cylindrical dumpling.

Remove from mould into a piece of greased banana leave. Roll up the banana leave and fasten both ends with stapler pins. Repeat this process until all rice and filling are used up.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a nonstick pan and pan fry the dumplings until heated through.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yeong Tofu

Tofu/taufoo, however you call it or in whatever forms is my favorite staple which needs no introduction but just for reminiscing, i miss the tofu from Malaysia, - the 'sang far', 'sui tofu' and 'tau khon/taukuah'.

To 'yeong' in cantonese which means to stuff, Besides all forms of tofu or soy products, any vegetables can be stuffed. Leafy vegetables like 'kangkong' or 'choy sum' can be blanched and twirled up and then a patch of fish paste is added. Blanched Long Beans made into a small bundle is one of the best. The other popular candidates for stuffing are 'red and green peppers', 'fu chuk', okra, eggplant and all types tofus of course. I personally like to stuff 'shitake mushrooms' and cabbage.

The stuffing filling of just fish paste is the most common but the 'hakka' version of adding ground pork and salted fish is very flavorful especially with 'sang far' tofu. In the absence of 'sang far', the silken tofu is cut into squares and using a melon baller, scoop a hole to hold the filling and then steam or alternatively, cut the tofu into triangles and stuff the fish paste on the pointed side of triangle instead of the straight side which is too tricky.

The paste can be made into balls which are then cooked in simmering water/stock or made into a log/disk and pan-fried.

The stuffed tofus or vegetables are pan-fried or deep-fried and is served as is with chilly sauce for dipping. They can be served with a light thin sauce made with 'mein see/tau cheong' or in soups. i especially like the soup that is made with soya beans. At this stage, they can be kept in the freezer but not for the stuffed white silken tofu. They are the best accompaniment for noodles.

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1-1½ lb Spanish Mackerel fillet - using a spoon, remove the flesh from the skin

1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp light soya sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 egg white
a pinch of msg(optional)

2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt mixed with 4 tbsp water


Put the fish fillet in the food processor and pulse until the fish is finely chopped up. The number of pulses depend on the freshness of the fish meat.
Remove from food processor and put minced fish meat in the cake mixer mixing bowl.
Add in the seasonings A and using the paddle, mix to combine
Add in B and turn on the highest speed to create 'kau' , then the paste will have the good crunchy texture
The paste is ready to 'yeong'/stuff whatever.
For Hakka version -
Add to fish paste
1/2 lb of ground pork with considerable amount of pork fat and make sure that it is not ground too fine. The best would be to chop pork with the cleaver
Salted fish - preferably 'mui heong'
To make soup:
Fish bones and skin(after the flesh has been removed for the fish paste)
A handful of ikan bilis
1 cup of soya beans - wash and soak for 2 hours, drain
3 - 4 slices of ginger
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying the fish bones and skin
Heat oil and pan fry the fish bones and skin or the ikan bilis until very crispy
Remove and fill a muslin/cheesecloth bag with the fried fish bones and skin/ikan bilis, then put in the pressure cooker together with the soya beans, ginger and water
Close the pressure cooker and cook on high for 1/2 hour
Release pressure and open the lid Remove the muslin/cheesecloth bag
The soup is then ready for the yeong tofu/vegetables/etc
Add salt and pepper to taste.(Might not have to add so much salt as the goodies might be salty enough)

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