Wednesday, December 29, 2010

18/12/2010 CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY

To celebrate every Chinese festival, my brothers would take turns to host a dinner for all the family. I have been told to go to SS 2 for the Tong Yuen Festival- Winter Solstice. To the Chinese this festival is consider more important than Chinese New Year.

I was in for a surprise when I arrived. They had cleared the living room and put up the Christmas lights- plain but beautiful white lights with glittering snowflakes. Most magical.


My sisters-in-law had been busying preparing the foods.

The Menu:-
Mushroom Soup
Spaghetti with choice of meat/tomato sauce and a creamy mushroom sauce.
Roasted Pork Knuckle
Glazed Ham
Fried Chicken
Salad- cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, carrot, edamame
Blanched baby Choy sum
Of course Tong Yuen - those glutinous rice flour balls in ginger syrup.



Most of the foods are store bought- but it is the thoughts that goes into buying them and getting them on the table.


When we all started to get the table ready, the atmostphere suddently transformed. Never mind, that those are plastic tables covered with plastic sheet. Never mind that we sat on plastic stools. Never mind the tableware were mismatched. We became very merry and we were all excited - just like children getting ready for our first sit down Christmas dinner together! Candles were lit and lights were dimmed. Music in the background - mind you its more of classic music (thanks to Amanda) rather than the usual jingle bells!

We just sat back and relaxed. The tinkling of the cultery, the laughter, the food and the wine - this is truly a magical moment - a whole family eating together - just like the Tong Yuen- a complete circle of hope, joy and happiness.

We later sang a birthday song to my Sister-in-law.












TIME TO SAY GOODBYE TO 2010

Time flies. I find it especially fast too and its the end of the year 2010.


Its time to ask myself what have I done and achieved in 2010. Its also time to give thanks.



I am thankful that I am still been able to work. Most people when they reached 55, they wonder whether the company will still retain them or they have to retire. After so many years of working, I am happy now that my job is less stressing and I have the time to do this blog!



I am thankful that all my family members are safe and healthy. There are wedding, new birth and new jobs and new faces in the family and these are very much welcome. These are times of joy and happiness for us - the caring and togetherness has always been of utmost importance to me. Its truly God's grace and mercy that we can all gather together without strife and laugh and sing too- during the many festivals and birthday parties!.



Health is wealth. I am glad that I am able to keep an exercise regime everyday and along the way meet new friends.



I am very happy that throughtout this year, I am able to cook dinner for my girls. This is something that I had missed doing when they are growing up. My Sister-in-law had been feeding them on my behalf. Thank You Evon. Nowadays however, is my chance to introduce them to foods and different style of cooking. I believe that food unites and food also delights -not only our tastebuds, but also our minds. This is something that I enjoy doing -cooking and baking anyway.



I pray that the next year will bring greater joy and happiness to all.



A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

Monday, December 27, 2010

FOOD FROM THE HEART

PORRIDGE


When I am sick, I will be told not to eat rice, but porridge. When I am tired of cooking, I will cook the simplest porridge. when I crave for something hot and comforting, its the porridge. There are a lot of ways to cook porridge and it is the main meal to some people. But there is one style of porridge that is easiest to cook, suitable for old and young and it can most simple or complex depending on the accompanying side dishes. It is the Teochew style of porridge- plain smooth porridge served with any variety of side dishes.









The rice is just boil with plenty of water till they just "open" ie the grains burst. And the texture of porridge depends on individual taste. I like mine- smooth and thick- not too watery.


I normally serve this with the following side dishes-

1. Chau Lup Lup-a dish of stir fry of diced long beans, diced sweet preserved radish, dried prawns and Chinese sausage(optional) and topped with roasted peanuts for crunchiness;


2. fried preserved (pre-cooked) ikan kampong for crispiness and saltiness


3. fried eggs wih dark soya sauce or a preserved radish omelette;


4. jar of pickled lettuce- from the fridge - its cold and crunchy


5. Preserved Fish with black bean- this is a favourite



These are the usual accompaniments that I would serve with porridge. Of course, salted duck eggs and chinese sausage are also good alternatives.






One of the dishes which lately have not been included is Luncheon Meat because of the bad feedback on this can of meat. But this time I had included it and it was zapped up!




The more elaborate varieties include Braised Duck in Dark Soya sauce, Sour Vegetables, Braised Mushroom with Chicken feet etc. In fact, the choices are limitless and you can serve this plain porridge with anything that you fancy.





Monday, December 20, 2010

EGG TARTS


I love Egg Tarts. My kid also like them. When you say Egg Tart, a lot of people would automatically thought of Tong Kee Egg Tarts. My kids and family have grown up with these tarts. They originally used to cost only 50 cents and now escalated to RM1.20 per piece. I heard that the recipe is closely guarded secret.

Recently I managed to make my own Egg Tarts from a recipe taken from Lily Wai Sek Hong.

The result is flaky pastry filled with eggy smooth custard.
Well you have to remember not to be greedy to fill up too much of the custard into the tart shells, otherwise they will overflow and stick to the tart shell which makes removing difficult. As you can see a bit of broken crust.


I have some leftover of the custard and I used them into STEAMED EGG CUSTARD- just like those small bowls of egg custard which were sold in Pudu Market. I remember Mother telling us that Steamed Egg custard is good for ladies- makes our skin/face fair and smooth. So do remember to eat more.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

TIRAMISU

4/12/2010






Today is my niece Wai Yee's birthday. I know I should have make this at least a day before, but I had forgotten and only remember this morning. Well, I console myself that its better late than never. I had originally planned to use the mascorpone cheese however, I must have overbeaten it and the cream separated. In the end, have to resort to cream cheese for the filling.




I made 2 - a square and a round one. I wanted to make a spiral deco but somehow just could not get the paper cutting right and as a result it ended as a spider web. For the square just cut the wavey strips to place across the cake, dust with cocoa powder. I was too impatient and lifted off the paper too fast and as a result, some of the cocoa powder fell back. Now I know that I have to lift it off slowly- piece by piece. Well, patience is not my virtue.




But I am glad that the cake is moist and favourful. I like it especially with the Irish cream liquer- yum.


Happy Birthday Wai Yee May God be with you always.













CHOCOLATE ICE-CREAM CUPCAKES

19/12/2010




Ever since I saw an episode of Bob Blummer making these Cupcakes using ice-cream cones, I wanted to try my hand at it. I had bought the ice-cream cone in anticipation of making them. Frankly, it is difficult to get flat bottom ones - I have asked McD - you know their ice-cream, but they are not selling the cones and cannot let me know where to get them. Hunted around the supermarkets -most of cones are cones- you know conical. but finally manage to get these flat bottom ones and they have been lying in my fridge since then until the last weekend. By this time, when I opened the packet, 2 of the cones have been broken.

So make the cake mixture - no problem there- easy. Putting the mixture in the cone- also no problem. Getting the cones to stand upright is the problem. So very very slowly, I managed to get the pan into the oven. Heave a sigh of relief.

The time to bake these are around 20-25 minutes. After 20 minutes I can still see the cake not quite cooked through when tested. Then the problem started - when I tried to turn the pan - they toppled and splashed over. I was really cursing myself for being so stupid - should have just leave them to cook till set.


The rest of the scenario is real fast - remove the pan immediately- scoop batter back into the cone and pop it in the oven to re-bake.
Well after a makeover, they looked pretty.


The centre of the cake is still soft and sticky with the melted chocolate pieces- just like eating an ice cream. The cone is crisp but got soft the next day.

















Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PINEAPPLE TARTS

15/12/2010










Ho, Ho, Ho, Santa Claus is coming to town.



Have been busy recently doing Christmas shopping and doing very little baking. I like Christmas shopping -choosing something which I think the receiver will treasure or at least like it and it must be useful and practical. Of course for the kids it's always something that makes them go "wow" when they open the present (hopefully). But then again, kids nowadays are so lucky and they seems to have practically everything- toys, clothes, oversea trips (no, I am not giving that), thus making this task very difficult each year.



While Christmas is coming around the corner, Chinese New Year is approaching fast. Today, got a call from a customer asking whether I will be making pineapple tarts. Pineapple tarts are a "must have" food item during the Chinese New Year. It means "good Luck come" and every Chinese wants good luck for the coming new year.


Of course, I will be making them with my sisters. This has been a family tradition since 1997, I am grateful for my sister-in-law who taught us the trade. The first year that we started to go on the market was really full of stress and tears. We were so ignorant that we kept opening the oven door and this resulted in the tarts being not cooked well. The tarts could reached the top of the tin and the next day the tarts collapsed. We were really at our wits and thankfully, my sister-in-law corrected our mistakes. We have to rope in almost every family members to keep us coped with the hugh orders -yes even my dear Mother helped to roll the jam, those who can drive would helped with the delivery and I am glad to say that we have more or less perfected our Pineapple Tarts now.


They are our bestseller every year. We cooked the pineapple jam ourselves - none of the commercial pineapple jam which is too sweet and which definitely comes with preservatives as well. Each piece of tart is handmake and homemake and you can be ensure of its freshness and authencity.

Beside the Pineapple Tarts, we also make Mamakaries too- little biscuit top with almond and Chocolate ganache.


This is also one of our signature cookies.



Any orders, please contact me at echankm@hotmail.com












Thursday, December 9, 2010

CINNAMON ROLL WITH BUTTERSCOTCH SAUCE

7/12/2010














I always like making bread - the kneading which I find is the most stress-relieving exercise; the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread - even though they don't taste good as most of the time the texture is too hard and everyone is so used to the commecially made bread that is so so soft.

I have tried sour dough (which eventually was thrown out); foccacio, doughnuts etc.

However the more I read about bread making, I am challenge. It seems that to get the bread nice and soft, it is better to let it slowly ferment in the fridge and little kneading is required.

Well, I had made Cinnamon roll before but the result was not satisfactory- the texture is hard. But this time, I am glad to say- "I have at last succeeded".

The bread created such a wonderful aroma when its baking. The texture is wonderfully soft and its not too sweet even with the butterscotch topping .

I have made the dough on Sunday and left it in the fridge to slowly ferment. Took it this morning to bring it back to room temperature before completing the process.








Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar (I use brown sugar) and then the cinnammon powder.


Begin to roll towards you - as tight as you can get.





Grease the pan with melted butter. Cut the roll into 1 inch slices and put into the pan and let to rise for another hour before baking.



I can't stop myself and finished up 2 rolls almost immediately.



Definitely will be making more. Recipe taken from The Pioneer Woman



































Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting



2/10/2010 Saturday


Went for exercise with Esther and Sister. After exercise, we went for dim sum at the Jade Village CafĂ© in Taman Connaught. The same place that we went with May & Co. Only 3 of us – the bill came up to RM47.00. The dim sum costs around RM2.60-2.80 per plate nowadays!

Esther had to go to her school for her last minute tips on the competition tomorrow.

Went home to do some gardening. The cactus plant is growing too heavy and is leaning to one side. The plant has been with us for more than 20 years now and whatever the old folks say that cactus plant help to block off evil and bad luck, I think it must have help us through these years. I was a bit sad to have to cut it. But hope that with new growth, it will be a fresh start again for the next generation.

Anyway I have the willow tree beside it and I hope it will grow bigger to give the shade for Sarah’s car.

In the afternoon, as I have tell myself –no more lying around and watching the TV. So decide to make some cakes- Tried out the DARK CHOCOLATE SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE. I have to finish the sour cream in the fridge otherwise it will go bad. In the end instead of a pound cake, I make some into cupcakes and decided to brush up my icing skill and make a PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING. Wow, it not only looks pretty but also taste fabulous. Chocolate and Peanut Butter are really a good match of flavours.


This "cake stand" is a pretty mug given by my sister Vicky.








Sunday, November 28, 2010

APPLE STRUDEL

I am amaze by filo pastry. Those layers upon layers of crisp pastry that melts in your mouth.
So I bought a packet and tried them out over the weekend.

The whole packet can make about 2 lots ie 2 short logs - there must be around 20 over sheets. You need to really thaw it out well otherwise they tend to stick together and you really need patience to peel them as they are so thin and filmsy. There will be some broken pieces but its ok as once they are baked, you can only see the layers. I think I like using them- messy yes- to butter each piece properly but the texture is really good- crispy and melt in the mouth.


I noted that I had to work fast so that the rest of the pastry does not get dry. I found that it require my patience to make sure each layer is brushed with melted butter and I am overwhelmed with so much butter being used - definitely not a low cal dessert! But a little indulgence is fine with me.









Brushing each layer with melted butter







For the filling, I used both red and green apples- sweet and tart together. I added some Arrowroot glaze (thank you May for that bottle of Arrowroot- had been wondering how to make full use of it) to the mixture and found that it just sort of thickens the filling so that it is not too wet and it just gooey and smooth.



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NINE LAYER KUEH






Continuing the Food from The Heart - this is the replica of the Nine-Layer Kueh from my grandma repertoire. I can remember that my grandma used to make this for her own birthday. I guess it is the meaning- you know -nine-nine= meaning long life in Chinese. We definitely looked forward to this every time. Her kueh is in red and white with red layer on top- again good luck to see red!


She started the procedure by preparing the glutinous rice. Sorting out any of the rice so that she get pure glutinous rice before soaking it overnight. The next morning, she would go to our neighbour's house - they had a stone mill and she would milled the rice herself . The milled rice mixture is then taken back home and divided into 2 parts. She mixed one part red with the red powder. She would sit by the steamer as she slowly steamed each layer (we used wood back then). It is really a food of patience and love. And nothing beats the favour.

I came upon a recipe and here I have reproduce it. The recipe use Rose Syrup for the red colour and Pandan Juice for the green colour. Of course, nowadays, we use the packet glutionous rice powder. Try the ones from Thailand. I made 2- one the traditional red/white that my grandma used to make.









I mix 3 parts, white, pink and red. Easier to divide into 3 jugs for easy pouring and getting the same layer throughtout.








Wait till the last layer is steamed- around 5 minutes each before adding the next layer.


How to eat this kueh- I like peeling off each layer and savouring it layer by layer.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

FOOD FROM THE HEART

Food from our heart
NAME OF DISH: CHIVE DUMPLING (GOU ZI)

This is one very popular dish among the Chinese culture. In China, it is being made during the Chinese New Year and family gatherings too, I think. It is simple fare that every Chinese family could make –ingredients are readily available and economical.

But to me this dish brings back memories of my father and grandmother. Yes, Father went to China and brought my Grandma back to Malaysia during the Communist Revolution. She came into our lives and bring with her the cuisine that she knew and which later became our favourites as we grew up. I can still remember she making the Nine-Layer Kueh for her own Birthday every year from scratch – from sorting the rice, and grinding them to a paste and to watching over the fire when steaming them.

However there is this dish that I can make and which was taught by her- Chive Dumpling.

This dish conjured back memories of bonding, togetherness, family fun, laughter and full bellies! Our children used to join in the fun and we always take the opportunity to relate to them about this dish.

When we were small , food has to be simple and easy to make (to fill the hungry mouths) and plentiful (to fill our bellies). So this dish fits the bill alright as I had 10 siblings.

The preparation of this dish would begin with scrubbing clean the square wooden table top. It was laid down on the floor. Glass bottles of all sizes were cleaned and dried. We then gathered around the table top. Grandma would then start to mix the dough. Plain water and flour mix together and kneaded till soft and smooth. Then she rolled them into long stick and then cut into small round. We –my sisters will be readied with glass bottles and we rolled the dough into small disc ready to be filled. Sometime, we played with the flour and whenever my youngest brother wanted to join and we gave him a piece of dough and his milk bottle as a rolling pin!

Meanwhile, my mother will be preparing the fillings. Minced the pork (by hands) chop, chop chop (imagine around 3 kgs- she got pretty strong arms – I mean figuratively to carry us throughout life).

There is always enough to fill us up (yes, we would boast who eat the most) and leftovers were kept for the following morning breakfast before we go to school which we always looked forward to.

The older generation had left us. Yet this is one dish which is a favourite of ours and our spouses and to our children and hopefully to their children.

We would make this whenever the other siblings return from overseas for holidays and we had a good time catching up with each other and talking about everything under the sun while making these dumplings. I would like to think that this dish binds us together no matter what our differences are and we can pass this on to the next generation.

Recipe:

To serve 4

1 kg Plain flour
2 eggs
enough water around 1 rice bowl or more

1. Mix together with form a pliable dough
2. knead till smooth and elastic.
3. Rest dough

Fillings:

500 gms minced pork (a bit of fat is ok and its better to chop by hand- got the texture)
300 prawns (cut into small cubes- no need to mince)
a bunch of chives (more or less depending on own choice) washed and cut into 1 cm lengths
1 egg
salt, pepper and sesame oil
Mix together in one direction till a bit starchy.

Roll dough into small disc
Stuff with fillings and pleat them together
Cook in boiling water till they float up (around 15-20 minutes depending on size of dumpling)
Enjoy with chili sauce – especially the “Kampong Koh” Brand or any garlic type.




Here we are - making the Chive Dumpling when the family gathered together in September for my niece's wedding.








My sister, Yoke and May kneading and rolling out the dough


May cutting the dough -she is very good at this- even size !








rolling out the dough






This stage is usualy done by the "experts" who know how to pleat the dough to encase the fillings









Boil the dumpling in boiling water till they float up





Dish up and serve


Sometimes, we serve this with a vegetable soup (I remember we used to drink the water itself as a soup!)


















Monday, November 22, 2010

My post was cut off when someone suddenly switch off the wireless connection.
Everybody- I mean my family members were surprise that I could make such a big cake.
Glad that the cake were finished off!



Here's to the happy couple with their sons, Jason and Kenny. Many Happy Returns.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

13/11/2010 PETER'S 60TH BIRTHDAY PARTY


Peter is my brother-in law. His birthday fell on the 13/11/2010 and my sister, Jennifer had planned to celebrate with a buffet birthday party. She "commissioned" me to make the birthday cake. Her birthday also fell on the 14/11/2010 and her sons asked me to bake her a birthday cake for the same day too. She also requested me to make some cupcakes for her relatives too.

I was nervous about the "big" project but was challenged too. After some planning and testing a week before the actual date, I was confidental enought to go ahead.

I baked the cakes a day before the party. I wanted to assembly them on the actual day itself.

I adapted the recipe for a GOLDEN VANILLA CAKE and made it into a TRAFFIC LIGHT CAKE- red, orange and green colour- favour with rum and decorated with dessicated coconut. I tinted the dessicated light pink - cannot have white colour- must have red colour for such an auspicious occasion after all 60 years is a milestone in one's life. Must have some birthday peach as well. Whipped the cream- I use the Gold Label Whipped Cream this time- it is more white and whip better than the Anchor brand. First, brush with the rum, then the apricot gel and then the whipped cream, next layer and repeat.
The cake was finally decorated and again into the fridge. That’s the problem of using fresh whipped cream- they cannot stand well. Maybe next time should try the Cream Cheese Frosting but I don’t want the cake to feel too heavy with 3 layers etc.

Next, the cheesecake- I was supposed to use fresh strawberries as deco but did not get them yesterday- nobody manage to get them for me. So use same Hershey kisses as the deco. The top of the cheesecake was a bit "wrinkled" so I spread some of the Butterscotch sauce over the top let it drip over the sides.




Next, I tinted the buttercream purple (lilac), orange, pink, green and yellow. No blue colour- no good luck for Chinese- but then there is no blue colour around. I piped the icing and Sarah helped to decorate with the bits and pieces etc. She then asked whether she can take 1 box for her friend’s birthday tomorrow.












Wednesday, November 17, 2010

17/10/2010 SUNDAY- PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE



No where to go today, decided to make the PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE.


This was one of the few cakes that I was taught to make during my secondary school Home Science Cookery Class. It must have been my Cookery class teachers who have ignited in me the interest to cook and bake. I thank God for such dedicated teachers.
Tweaked the recipe and the result was very good if I may say so. Maybe a bit too sweet for my taste but it was a welcome treat for everyone and the cake was finished before the afternoon. So far none of the cakes have received such a "warm" welcome. The texture was moist and soft and the pineapple gave it just a kind of hint of tropical flavour.



MY NEW BABY

I am very happy and very excited because at last, I can have my own blog. Thanks to my son Jeremy in Australia. He doesn't think I am too old, too uneducated in the IT of today to participate in this universal past time of today. His support to me is very much valued.


In fact all my children are very supportive of my cooking and baking and they are my critics. Cooking and baking is my passion and todate, I am still trying to perfect my skills and this is what this blog is about.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Please be patient

I'm still in the process of getting this blog sorted out. The cakes are in the oven so please be patient with me. :)