Jan 28, 2009

A Year of Abundance

Here's wishing everyone a year of Abundance in love, in health, in wealth, in luck and in prosperity. I know its somewhat late. I was so busy that I didn't have time to update my forum too.

Here's the many fish nian gao (chinese new year cakes) I have made for family and friends.

For my mother in law, a fusion of old and new(brown nian gao mixed with new flavours)

For my Uncle Daniel and Aunty Monica, a pair of hand painted Gold dusted Fish nian gao

For the rest of my elderly relatives(aunties, uncles, my parents too)

Some auspicious steamed rice flour cakes for everyone

For my friends at Chef's Secrets Cooking Studio.

Jan 18, 2009

Of time and space

If I was to be ask which day in my life was the most eventful day, I think the answer would be today, 18 January 2009. Why? It wasn't a day where I had the most fun things to do or I had a surprise of all sorts. But it was the day when someone like me, who always seem to remember all the details in life, of friends, and things to forget everything!!!

Firstly, I left the house to go to Chef Secrets without the most important thing of my visit. And that was to give Amy the 5 kg of laksa paste which I have cooked for her. Then I had to make a trip home and dash out again to pass it to her.

During my journey there by taxi, I got a phone call from my students asking me if the class was still on. Oh dear! Not another mishap! I totally forgotten about the class I was supposed to have. I guess it was because she didn't pay me on time, it slipped my mind that she may not have want to come so I cancel the class. Not knowing she misinterpreted it as "Pay on the actual day".

Thankfully, she understood and we will have to re scheduled again.

Then I thought I should give myself a boost by eating out and not stress about lunch. So I took Melody out for lunch at a restaurant.

I came home, feeling somewhat recharged and at 2pm, I started baking. That was eventful. In total I baked 20 boxes of 5 different types of cookies from my bake order list.

Then my Buddha Over the Wall soup was almost ready. I had told myself I should pamper myself once in a while and not be so stressed up. We had dinner with just this wonderful soup and with plain noodles.

After dinner, I retired to the room and decided to check my email. Minutes later, JS was at my front door! Oh dear! not again!

She came to collect her Nian Gao and again I forgotten about it! JS is one my students and now a good friend. She pitied me having to run the show alone with so many things in my head. And I had no one to assist me. Soon, she says, I will go mad. :(

She was kind enough to say " Gina, I understand. Don't stress yourself. I will come on Thursday again and will remind you on Wednesday "

So it was, my most eventful day. A day I forgotten alot of things. I hope next week will be better.

Jan 13, 2009

Seeing RED

After a successful testing of various new flavours of cookies for Chef's Secrets Cooking Studio over the weekend, I decided to use my home made laksa paste to create another cookie. This is simply just too delicious to describe.

The cookie tasted a bit of West fusion with Asian flavours. Almost like eating an English Shortbread that has Asian spices and herbs in it. Surprisingly, there was no butter used nor eggs. A clever way to mix with Naturel's Sunflower Oil and Naturel's Sunflower oil margarine, sugar and low gluten flour, and of course my secret ingredient was the laksa paste.

When its baked, it seemed to form 'little feet' like Macarons. Maybe it is a sign to tell me that its time to stop fiddling with Asian flavours and start baking some sweet cookies instead. But give me savoury spicy cookies anytime, I loved it. Sweet cookies are good for looking only. I haven't eaten my own pineapple tarts yet too.

Here is the recipe I have done. Enjoy!

70g Naturel's Margarine
50ml Naturel's Sunflower Oil
50g icing sugar
200g Cake flour(or low gluten flour, in USA, I guess this is Softassilk)
2 tbsp laksa paste

1. Add margarine to stir with oil.
2. Add icing sugar, followed by laksa paste
3. Next add flour, mix to combined.
4. Scoop out portions using a cookie scoop. Baked in preheated oven at 200C for 20 minutes.
5. Leave to cool completely before emptying into your tummy!


Jan 10, 2009

A spoonful of...

A spoonful of yummlicious home made pineapple jam for each of these delightful tarts.

It does looked like little pots of gold at the end of my rainbow. These are now my most hot selling Pineapple tarts I have created for family, friends and business associates during the Lunar New Year celebrations.

While I also teach my students the secrets to making these little pots of gold, I still make them to sell to friends and business associates. And it never fails to get a smile on people's faces when they get it. One bite, that's like eating heavenly cakes. Its smells of fresh pineapples, the pastry is light and melts in the mouth. Each part of the baking process was made by hand.

The pineapples are grated manually using an old fashioned mandolin. Then sieved to retain the juice. At least half a litre of the sour pineapple juice and cooked together with the grated pineapples. A bit stirring every now and then, you may even sing a tune or two to keep upbeat as it may be a long and tiring task to stand in front of the wok to cook for 2 hours.

Then leaving in out to cool, next I had to make the pastry by using the rubbing in method with butter, flour, sugar and eggs. And resting it in the fridge for 30 minutes. On my lazy days, I would do all these ahead of time and only baked on the day when I am free.

I loved to make it closed. Using a special tart mould. Each will be filled with a table spoonful of freshly cooked pineapple jam. Then the top to be covered with thin layer of pastry, cut to size to fit the top. Seal with push on the fingers. And its ready for the oven.

And baked to perfection, inverted and voila..my little flower pots of gold!


I won't be sharing the recipe on my blog. Its been documented in my KC forum. Sign up as a member to access it. Membership is free. This way is better, as in the forum, you can ask questions and get answered instantly.

Jan 7, 2009

Finally, the black Diary is here...

Last October, I was invited by Ate Media Publishing to write a recipe for a Diary/Planner they have been commissioned to create for MICA.

This was the criteria for selection, quoted from the email I received from their Editor:

"This is for the Ministry of Communications, Information and the Arts (in conjunction with the Overseas Singaporeans Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office) to create a food-themed 18 week diary / planner that will given out to 10,000 overseas Singaporeans.

18 local food celebrities have been chosen to be profiled in this diary. You, of course, are one of them. The recipe that you share should be of a dish that reminds you of “home” or to you is something that is very “Singaporean”. It could be, for example, a dish that you crave when you are travelling or a dish that brings back memories. We will also be running a photo of this dish. "

To me, it was such an honor to be considered as one of the 18 local food celebrities. I just said "Yes" without a doubt. But I had to sit down and think of what to share. I had too many recipes and many are not easy to follow. They wanted something that had a few steps and using some basic ingredients that overseas Singaporeans can easily find in the grocers nearby.

In the end, I chose my late ah ma's Hokkien Kiam P'ng or Claypot Salty Rice. Due to copyright issues, I won't be sharing this recipe here online. Here's some snapshots of the diary planner.

As far as I know, this Diary Planner is not for sale. And only MICA have the rights to reprint it if so required. It is to be mailed out to 10, 000 overseas Singaporeans. As to how they have short listed who they would send to, I have no idea. As I believed that there maybe millions outside our home country, living, working or studying abroad.

Thanks to Chubby Hubby (Aun and Su-Lynn) and crew, for this honor.

My precious Four(4) complimentary copies of the diary planner will stay with me. You can bribe me but I still won't give it away.


Jan 6, 2009

Heavenly juice

the white stuff you see at the bottle of the bottle is the wine residue and wine yeast powder.

this is wine that is already harvested after 100 days.

Here's the recipe for the Dried Cranberries Wine I made.

200g dried cranberries
600g rock sugar
1.5 litres water

1 pc wine yeast

1. Use a large pot, add water to boil with sugar till it melts. Add dried fruits to cook in the syrup till it soften.
2. Leave aside to cool completely.
3. Crush wine yeast into powder and scatter it in a large glass jar.
4. Pour cooled cranberries and syrup into the jar. Close the jar with cover.
5. Leave it aside for 100 days minimum.
6. After 100 days, sieve out using a cheesecloth or muslin cloth to drain the wine.
7. Store the wine in a glass bottle and cover with a cork.
8. Store the wine in the fridge.
9. The fruits have to be discarded as its very sour.

This wine is best drunk at home, with ice and water(if you cannot take too strong wine). Never drink and drive. Depending on how much you can take, my sister felt tipsy just drinking a shot of it with ice and water. While the rest of us (my hubby and I) could drink it just on ice without water.

Important notes on wine making
1. Do not move the jar or shake it too much during the initial 100 days of fermentation.
2. Leave this jar in a dark cool place, away from direct sunlight or even near to the cooking stove. Heat will kill fermentation immediately.
3. Do not fill up the bottle or jar with rice or wine upto to the top of the container.
4. all containers must be made of glass, earthern ware, claypot. No stainless steel pot, or plastic containers.

Jan 3, 2009

Toasting in the New Year

Well many would toast with real wine, liquor or beer, I decided to use my home made bai mi jiu(chinese rice wine) to soak a chicken in it. Thus having to drink the wine and eat the chicken too.

That way, I kill 2 birds with one stone. And that is to have my cake and eat it too. Or to drink the wine and have the chicken too.

I cook 2 whole birds, the Hainanese chicken style way. Then had it bathed in icy cold water for 30 minutes. When its cool enough, I cut it up, deboned it leaving only the thighs and wings with bone-in. Then I put it all in a large deep casserole and pour some 700ml of home made bai mi jiu over. Barely enough to cover all the meat. And left it in the chiller to soak for 10 hours.

I removed it from the chiller and carefully displaying it on a large plate. Decorated with sliced Japanese cucumbers and drizzle more wine over it. 1 hour before serving, it was left on the dinner table. As it was taken out from the chiller, it was way too cold to be served.

As according to old chinese belief, one must not eat cold food. Everything must be eaten hot or warm. So I made a nice Ginger sauce to go with it.

This Drunken Chicken is great on its own, with or without the ginger sauce. You can either have it with warm rice or sometimes, my girls eat it with nothing. They would lick their fingers.

And to go with it, I also serve my hubby with a shot of home made Dried Cranberries Wine on rocks.