Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wan Pin Kou

It snowed so badly yesterday and today and i am snowed in. I made this as the whiteness of this snack sort of resembled the snow. This is a very traditional snack of yesteryears. It used to be in a rectangular cut shaped snack packed in pink paper and i wonder if it is still so. There is no flavorings or colorings whatsoever, just sweet and white, that is why it is packed in pink paper cos chinese associates white with death. I think this snack looks more appealing with patterns and a filling to enhance the taste. It is easy and fun to make but has to be consumed when freshly made as it will get hardened fast in high altitude, even in air-tight containers, perhaps it is better at sea-level places.

100 gm. Koh fun (cooked glutinous rice flour)
80 gm. icing sugar
20 gm. Crisco shortening
1/4 tsp. Vanillin powder
30 - 40 gm. cold water
Hawflakes/Chopped roasted peanuts/Pineapple Jam

Mix all the ingredients for the cookie together - it should look like breadcrumbs, add more water if you have to.
Fill mould with some koh fun mixture, place some filling on top then fill mould with more koh fun mixture
Press hard to have a very vivid pattern, remove excess if there is any and knock it to remove.
This cookie/snack is ready for serving.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teochew Mooncake

i know mid-autumn festival is over but these cakes can be enjoyed at any time of the year. They are easy to make and worth every ounce of effort put in. I made these intending to have a party during the festival but unfortunately had to cancell the party as my grand children were down with several days of high fever and i did not want to spread what they were having. It was so sad that i had to put aside tradition as the previous year we had so much fun. Posting this recipe now will give ample time to practice for next year's festival. This pastry recipe is from from dear friend - tt.

Water Dough:-
200g all purpose flour
1/2 tsp double acting baking powder
40g oil
40g sugar
80g water
Oil Dough:-
100g all purpose flour
cooking oil (a few tbs)*
300 gm lotus paste - divide into 50 gm each(recipe from here
100 gm sweet mui choy
25 gm kat paeng (sugared dried tangerine)
25 gm toasted sesame seeds
60 gm Tong Tung Kwa(dried sugar coated winter melon)
60 gm lotus paste- recipe from here

Water dough:
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Mix together oil, sugar and water.
Combine flour and water mixture and mix to form a soft dough.
Rest overnight.
Oil Dough:

Add oil to flour a tbsp at a time.
Mix until flour is moist and comes together but is not too wet.

To make pastry:
Divide the water and oil dough into 6 portions.
Wrap the oil dough with the water dough. Repeat until all 6 portions are done.
Coming back to the first portion, roll from the center of dough upwards once, then back to the center and roll downwards once. Roll up the disk like you would roll up a carpet. Roll the long carpet flat by starting from the center, upwardsonce, back to the center and downwards once. Roll dough up again then flatten dough into a disk as round as possible. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
To make the filling
Soak the sweet mui choy and wash it really clean by changing the water several times. Squeeze the vegetable to rid of water. Chop it fine.(i put the veg in the food processor and pulse). Fry the veg without oil until it is dried but not crispy.
Cut up the kat paeng, remove the seeds and chop it up in the food processor.
Chop up the tong tung kwa in the food processor.
Mix all the chopped up ingredients with the lotus paste and mix well. Divide into 6 portions.
Wrap this with the 50 gm lotus paste (this is the filling)
To assemble:
Wrap rolled dough around filling, flatten the pastry slightly, stamp with design of your choice.
Bake top down (side with design against the baking sheet, bottom up) @ 400'F for 5 mins. After 5 mins, the pastry should begin to turn white and puff. Flip the pastry so that the bottom is down and the top is up. Bake another 4 mins, egg wash and bake for 1-2 more mins
Note from tt: for Better flavor use lard or peanut oil for the recipe. After a few experiments, I've discovered that the recipe is not as important as the the method used. You can use almost any recipe out there; just let the water dough rest overnight and success will be at your door step.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mock Shark Fin's Omelette

It has been such a long time that i have attended a chinese wedding dinner - an eight course one. The most memorable will be this first dish which was supposed to be an appetizer - The Four Seasons. It was the most welcome platter cos, malaysian guests were noted for never being on-time, so can you imagine how hungry everyone must be. There were four types severed on a lovely garnished huge plate and i did not really cared which represented which season but this omelette was more often than not, will be one of them but it was cooked with Shark Fins. Here, i have fried my omelette with bean sprouts instead - not because i am turning 'green' cos i don't have Shark Fins - who has???


1 cup crab meat - mix with 1 tbsp shaoxing wine and steam for 3 minutes.
1 cup bean sprouts - heads and tails removed
3 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
chopped spring onions/cilantro for garnishing
Iceberg lettuce (optional)
Beat eggs with salt and pepper.
Add in the crab meat and bean sprouts.
Heat up oil and when oil is shimmering, add in the egg mixture and stir. Continue to stir until egg is cooked and set.
Dish out and serve hot.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cooling Herbal Tea

Chinese Wisdom..."When you are calm and stable, careful of attention, the celestial design is always clear,open awareness is unobscured;then you have autonomy in action and can deal with whatever arises."The Book of Balance and Harmony.Cleary, T. (trans.), p.3.

However wise we might be, it was inevitable that i will get what the whole family was experiencing - down under the weather. What i learned from my 'Ah Po' was, when we are not well, our body must not be balanced, and out will come the huge pot to make 'herbal tea'. She would ask me to go to Eu Yan Sang, The chinese medicinal shop to get her the concoction she wanted - i would repeat the names of the herbs again and again and strangely enough, everytime, without fail, as i stood in the counter and the guy ask "Ah Mui, yew mat yeh?" - I would just open my mouth and nothing came out - blank, not a word. Then i would be questioned from left to right, what sickness? how many of us were sick? etc, Watching him collect the herbs from the drawers marvelled me as he had never opened a wrong one at all and there were so many drawers that it was unaccountable when i was at that age. Another fantastic feat was seeing him pack those leafy herbs onto a tiny piece of pink 1 foot square paper - he was like a magician at work, fast and efficient - 'nah' he would say and handed me the nicely wrapped pink packet on a string - '20 cents'. A lot has changed since then, no more 20 cents, it must be at least 2.00RM and it comes in plastic bags.


Pak Chee chao
Har Fui Chao(Zi Cao (Xia Ku Cao Prunella vulgaris)(Gromwell Root or Arnebia or Lithospermum))
Thong Thoong Kua- Candied Melon
Kum Cho - Liquorice


Wash and soak the herbs, remove the herbs from the water and throw away the water, this way you will not disturbed the sand and grit that have sunk to the bottom.

Put washed herbs and the remaining ingredients in a large pot, fill with enough of water - amount does not matter - the more water you have, the tea will only be more diluted.
Bring to the boil and continue to boil for another 10 - 15 minutes. Strain and take this drink for cooling purposes.
Use the herbs again and reboiled with more water, this consumption will not be as cooling as the first pot, anyway you need a lot of liquid when you are well.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Caramel Honeycomb Cake/Kuih Sarang Semut

The name for this cake in Malay, Kuih Sarang Semut, is more appropriate as translated, is Ant's Nest Cake cos i don't see any honeycomb in the cake except for tunnels and holes. Trying to achieve the so called 'honeycomb' is not easy as i thought although most of the recipes say that this is an easy recipe. This is my third attempts and i managed to get some tunnels and holes after blaming on the baking soda being old for the first attempt and for the second attempt, i blamed on whatever i could think of, although i bought new baking soda which will only expire in 2012.
I am glad i failed, as it is time to learn about Baking soda as this is the only chemical leavener used in this cake. Baking soda(sodium bicarbonate) when used alone, breaks down when heated to form carbon dioxide gas, however, if baking soda is combined with an acid, carbon dioxide gas is produced much faster and only a small amount of a milder-tasting salt is left behind. Baking soda does not create new bubbles in a batter, the carbon dioxide that they release only enlarges bubbles that already exist in the batter. This means that bubbles created during mixing are a vital part of leavening. The other factor that will inflate bubbles is steam from liquids, including eggs and this too will not create a single new bubble.
The bubble-holding capacity of solid fats like shortening/Crisco, is a another vital part of leavening and Crisco has an advantage over other solid fats in that it already contains millions of fine bubbles to aid in leavening.
If leavener is unevenly distributed in the batter, the cake will have boles here and there, along with areas that are tightly compressed - this is exactly what this cake wants - uneven distribution of baking soda and that is why it is left to the last stage of mixing.
The cake is baked in a cold oven so as to allow the cake batter to warm up and allow the baking soda to produce gases vigorously to enlarge bubbles and create a good rise to the cake before higher heat starts setting(crusting) the top of the cake and holding it down.
With this knowledge, i think it is time for the third attempt to this cake. What i need to do is the opposite of how a cake - cake should be made. This cake should be chewy and have tunnels and holes - large ones, and i would have to create bubbles in the batter. The only way is - to beat the caramel into the flour until bubbles are visible. Whisking eggs and condensed milk will create a lot of bubbles too. I guessed i figured it right, now it is an easy recipe - the cake was chewy and had tunnels and holes.
Recipe source : Sunflower's Food Galore


1 1/3 cup/8 1/2 ozs/250 gm fine granulated sugar
250 ml of water
4 ozs/1 stick/113 gm Crisco - butter flavor
2 cups/8.8 ozs/250 gm all-purpose flour(for cup - spooned and level)
1/2 cup/4 fl oz/160g condensed milk
6 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
Grease a 9" round cake pan, then line the bottom and sides with greased parchment paper. Make the sides higher than the cake pan.

In a small saucepan, add in sugar and heat at medium heat till the sugar begins to melt. As soon as the melted sugar has turned golden yellow, turn the heat to right low or remove from the heat if using an electric stove. Continue heating till the sugar turns golden brown and turn the heat off. Allow the caramel cool for 30 seconds. then add one tbsp of water at a time, the hot sugar will spit and splatter. Continue adding water one tbsp at a time till it stops sizzling, then pour in the rest of water. Turn the heat on, stir and scrape the side to release any un-melted sugar. Remove from heat and turn heat off . Add in the Crisco and stir till melted. Allow to cool.

Put flour in a large mixing bowl and pour in about 1/2 the caramel, beat with a electric beater till smooth, continue adding the rest of the caramel. Beat on medium speed until bubbles are visible, then let the mixture stand for about 10 - 15 minutes.

In another large bowl, whisk eggs and condensed milk until foamy with a lot of bubbles.
Beat the egg mixture into the caramel flour batter , lastly sieve in the baking soda and mix till well combined.

Pour into the the prepared cake pan. Leave it to stand in the cold oven for about 30 - 40 minutes.

Turn the oven to 300f and bake the cake from cold for 1 hour or till it is cooked. Check for doneness - cake is done when a skewer comes out clean and the center feels firm to the touch.

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