Friday, January 30, 2009

Festive Shortbread Squares

festive shortbread squares

An old recipe that I found in a free booklet from B&P Butterfly cornflour booklet. Easy to make and nice to look.

Ingredients :
250 g butter
170 g castor sugar
150 g cornflour
50 g rice flour
200 g plain flour
60 g red cherries
60 g green cherries

Method :
1) Grease a 32 cm x 26 cm shallow baking tray.
2) Sift together the cornflour, rice flour and plain flour.
3) Cream butter and sugar till creamy. Fold in flour and mix into a dough.
4) Press dough evenly onto greased tray. Cut dough lightly into 5 cm squares.
5) Decorate each square with cherries.
6) Baked in preheated oven at 170 deg. C for 20 minutes.
7) Leave to cool before cutting into squares

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hup tou shou or walnut cookies

Hup thou shou (walnut cookies) for the Lunar new year

More than a week since I posted anything. Been busy preparing for the lunar new year - baking, shopping for stuff for new year visits, etc... stopped bothering about getting new banknotes for red packets two years (so long as it is legal tender, don't see why should it have to be crisp new banknotes).

Baked this hup thou shou or walnut cookies last Friday. Puzzles me why they call it 'hup thou' (walnut) since the original 'hup thou shou' don' have any walnuts in it, and it is not shaped like a walnut either. However, in some recent recipes, somebody decided to add some walnuts in it, and it is what I have done.

Ingredients :
140 g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ammonia powder
1/4 tsp salt
60 g butter
30 g shortening
20 g cooking oil
60 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
30 g walnuts (chopped and roasted)

for glazing (beaten) - 1 egg yolk and 1 tsp water

Method :
1) Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ammonia and salt.
2) Add in butter, shortening, cooking oil, icing sugar, egg yolk and mix well. Add in the walnuts.
3) Shape into small balls of 4g each. Place on a lined baking sheet. Make a small depression in the centre of the cookie by using a chopstick. Glaze the surface.
4) Bake at 180 deg C for 10 - 15 minutes until cooked.

Note : Lard was used for making 'hup thou shou', but many have stopped using lard for a healthier alternative. Ammonia is used to 'loosen' the texture of the cookies. Found this recipe in Alan Ooi's New Year Cookies.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chinese chives (kau choy) pancake

Chinese chives (kau choy) pancakes

Another pancake recipe today. Had forgotten about this childhood comfort food, until I saw a friend making it.

Ingredients :
250 g flour
1 egg
350 - 400 ml water
1 tbsp oil
3 tbsp dried shrimps (soaked and chopped coarsely)
6 shallots (slices thinly)
1 bunch of Chinese chives (kau choy), cut into 1 - 2 cm lengths

Method :
1) Heat up 2 tbsp oil and fry the shallots and shrimps until fragrant. Set aside.
2) Sieve flour into mixing bowl. Add in salt, egg and 1 tbsp oil. Pour in water stirring all the time to make a pancake batter. Add in fried shallots, shrimps and shallots. Mix thoroughly.
3) Heat up a tsp oil in non-stick pan. Pour in a ladle of the pancake batter and cook both sides of pancake until golden colour.

The pancake batter

NB : Serve pancake with chili sauce (I think it goes very well with Lingham's chili sauce).
Old housewife's tip : To dislodge fish bone stuck in throat - wrap strip of uncut Chinese chive around a lump of rice and swallow. Not sure whether it worked or not, but I remembered my brother swallowing this as a child when he had a fish bone stuck in this throat!

(Today's blog is dedicated to the memory of my good friend, Fei Jie who taught me how to make this pancake, and who is now spreading her good cheer and cooking in God's little kitchen. "Fei Jie, May God Bless You and Keep You Safe In His Arms" and I dearly missed the hours spent yakking away in your kitchen)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

fragrant spicy rice

fragrant spicy rice for dinner

This fragrant rice tastes rather nice , and I think it goes rather well with coleslaw, salad and fried chicken. Have seen something like it at fast food outlets, but without the raisins.

Ingredients :
300 g rice
1 tbsp margarine
1 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic
4 shallots, sliced thinly
1 cm pc ginger, crushed
3 cm pc cinnamon stick
5 cardamoms
5 cloves
1 star anise
2 pandan leaves
1 3/4 cups water
2 tbsp evaporated milk
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chicken stock granules

50 g raisins

Method :
1) Wash rice, drain and put into rice cooker. Add in the pandan leaves.
2) Heat up oil and margarine, saute shallots, ginger and garlic. Add in cinnamon sticks, cardamoms, cloves and star anise and continue to fry until fragrant.
3) Add in water, milk, salt and chicken stock granules. Bring to boil and add to the rice cooker. Switch on rice cooker, and when rice is cooked, switched off and leave rice to stand for 10 - 20 minutes.
4) Remove the spices, and add in the raisins. Mix well and serve.

Note : Instead of margarine, you can also use ghee. If evaporated milk is not available, use fresh milk. I have even used milk powder before. A friend add 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder to the rice, and let it stand for 30 minutes to get a nice yellowy color in the rice. Use basmathi rice if you have it at home.
I am short of ideas as to what to cook, this makes a great dinner. I fry some chicken (instant frozen chicken from the supermart!), prepare coleslaw and another salad, and dinner is done.

Friday, January 9, 2009

kaya and butter on toast

Michael of ( commented that I did not have a picture of the home made kaya for the recipe that I posted the other day.

Well, went out and bought a loaf of bread and slathered it with the kaya, and here is the pix!

My favourite morning breakfast - kaya and butter on toast and milk tea

Thursday, January 8, 2009

excessive use of packaging materials

Bought some new clothes for the children recently, and while unpacking them, it just come to mind the excessive packaging the manufacturers used for the clothing.

Take for example, the packaging for the school uniforms I bought for the new school year.

The materials used to pack the long sleeve shirts - 1 strip of cardboard and 2 strips of plastic to hold up the collar, and 3 plastic clips to keep the shirt in place in the plastic bag and a little plastic string to hold the price tag, the cost of which would be passed to me, the consumer! This is the packaging for just 1 shirt, so imagine the amount of packaging wasted.

Then there is this label for a pair of jeans . The manufacturer has fixed together a piece of plastic to their cardboard label with a small metal eyelet . As far as I can see, the plastic serves no purpose at all, and is just another waste of plastic.

The cardboard for the pyjamas. The pair of pyjamas had 2 pieces of cardboard and 2 plastic clips to keep the clothes in shape, so 4 pairs of pyjamas meant 8 pieces of cardboard and plastic clips in the recycle bin.

Then there are these little plastic strings to hold the price tags! How many among us would be careful enough to separate them for recycling. They are so small, that they probably would end up all over the floor, to be vacuumed up!

So, can I hope for some wake up call for clothing manufacturers out there. When will they do away with all the unnecessary packaging, the cost of which are borne by us. In my view, there is no need for the plastic strips and cardboard to hold up the collar. Just fold up nicely and put in individual plastic bags, and if possible do away with the plastic bags, too!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Home made kaya (coconut egg jam)

One of my earlier childhood memory is of my mum stirring the pot of kaya over the firewood stove. My mum ran a small coffee shop, and she used to make her own kaya for the toasts that her customers ordered. She learnt to make her kaya from the Hainanese sifu that worked for us. Most of the coffee shops in the town were ran by the Hainanese, and we were the only Cantonese coffee shop owners.
In fact, in the little town, most of the businesses were along ethnic lines. The Cantonese ran the sundry shops, the Hakkas the textile business, and the Hokkiens were mostly rubber dealers.

Ingredients for the home made kaya :
600 g sugar
4 eggs
2 egg whites
5 pandan leaves
a slice of young ginger
1 1/2 coconut - squeeze for thick santan.

Method :
Beat eggs and egg whites until foamy. Add in sugar, and place in double boiler. Stir until sugar dissolved. Strain mixture for lumps. Double-boil again. Add in pandan leaves and ginger. Keep stirring and add in the thick santan. Kaya is cooked when the santan has thickened. Remove ginger and pandan leaves.

For a nice caramel colour, caramelize about 50 g of sugar in a small saucepan and add to the kaya mixture, while it it still cooking.

Note : The whole cooking process will take over an hour. The water in the double boiler should not exceed 70 deg. C . If the water is too hot, the eggs will curdle and little lumps will form on the kaya.
It is a long tedious process, but the result is certainly worth it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fraser's Hill

Braved the long and winding road to travel to Fraser's Hill ( The only way to travel to the hill is by car since the old bus that serviced the route broke down and they have not bothered to replace it. Driving to Fraser's Hill is the furthest that I have ever driven myself, and it is the first time that I have ever driven along such a winding road. The last 8 km, I had to keep my hands firmly on the wheel, as the road was so winding. The weather is not as cool as I remember from when I first went there 26 years ago. Global warming????

The Sungai Selangor Dam Regulating Dam. Diverted from the Kuala Kubu road to visit this place. I don't remember seeing any signboards, but shortly after leaving Kuala Kubu town, you can see the junction on the left.

Probably the most photographed clock tower in Malaysia! Every visitors to the hill seems to want a pix in front of the tower.

This quaint old building is the local post office.

The local police station built in 1919.

Pix from Fraser's Pine Resort.

Early morning at Pine Resort.

Dining room at Pine Resort Apartment. Rented a 3-room apartment at Pine Resort at RM338/- per night. Rates included a set dinner and buffet breakfast for 6. Food is average, but you can ask for extra rice and Chinese tea. If you can't live without the internet, there is wifi at the reception area. The apartment has a kitchen, but don't plan on doing your own cooking unless you are willing to lug your stove up the hill! Night entertainment is non-existent so remember to bring your own entertainment....

Lunch was at Restoran Hill View in Fraser's Hill. Seems to be about the only restaurant around. Of course, there is the Ye Old Smokehouse which serves western food. Actually, had wanted to eat there, but the manager looked so haughty and unwelcoming, we decided to give the place a miss. Well, their loss was Restoran Hill View's gain, and we certainly did not regret it. Nice decent food, and rice is unlimited. Our sumptous lunch for seven cost us RM74/-, and we had sweet sour pork, baby kailan, tofu, egg foo yong and lemon chicken (tasted more like orange chicken, though).

One of the oldest golf course in Malaysia

On the way back, stopped at Ulu Yam for lor mee. Also had steamed lala, stir-fried sweet potato leaves, fried mee sua, and fish cakes. Total bill : Rm66/-. After Rasa, look out for the junction to Hulu Yam (turn left). There are many outlets selling 'lor mee', and we just choose the most crowded outlet!