CNY Cookies #2: Peanut Cookies

Another one of my all-time favourite CNY cookies and it’s also my family’s fave. This recipe is a hand-me-down recipe from one of my mom’s friends in our hometown. It’s a rather easy recipe and once you’ve baked this, you’ll never pay to buy another bottle of peanut cookies sold outside.

If you wish to follow the true-blue traditional recipe, the original recipe calls for 50% lard, 50% cooking oil. However, I’d usually use 100% cooking oil.

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Melt-in-the-mouth Peanut Cookies

Depending on how you like the texture of this cookie, you can either ground the peanut coarse or fine. If you like a little bit crunchy of texture, then don’t ground the peanuts too fine. However, if you like the ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ texture, then you would need to ground the peanuts to ALMOST paste like.

 

 Ingredients:

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Peanut cookies

1 kati (approx 600gm) of peanuts – baked, peeled and grounded (note: I’d been advised that for baking, you should use the small rounded peanuts vs. the longer ones)
1 kati flour (600 gm)
11 oz icing sugar (300 gm)
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
12 oz cooking oil (350 ml)
egg yolk for glazing

Method:
1. Sieve the icing sugar into a mixing bowl, and then sieve the flour (including the baking powder).
2. Next, add in the grounded peanuts, salt and mix the above ingredients together. Try to ensure that there’s no lumps.
3. Once the dry ingredients are well mixed, gradually pour in the oil and mix it thoroughly.
4. Once all’s well mixed, roll into thumb-size balls (or smaller) and place on baking tray. Push a dent into the middle with your finger/ pinky (or I use end of a chopsticks). Or you may press half a raw peanut into each cookie. It’s up to you on the variation. Glaze it with egg yolk before baking.
5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at around 160-165C for 15-20mins. or until it’s slightly brown. 

Warning: This peanut cookie is very addictive. Once you start, it’s really difficult to stop!

Tip 1: I would usually glaze it another time as soon as it’s out of the oven to give it a more shining look.

Tip 2: Don’t wait for it to look golden brown because it’ll be burnt by then!!! Trust me, I’m speaking from experience.  😉

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CNY Cookies #1: Butter Oats Cookies

Chinese New Year – a start of a new Chinese calendar year. As we celebrate this festival with family and friends, food is a definite part of this celebration.

While there’s the traditional must-have food such as nian-gao, huat-kuih and tang-yuan for prayers, cookies is another must-haves for CNY.

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Butter Oats Cookies with cranberries

For me, this Butter Oats cookies is one that I will definitely bake every year. There are a few reasons for this: 1) It’s my family favourite, especially my late dad ; 2) It’s an easy recipe to bake, and believe me because this is one of the very first cookies I baked (when I was still in secondary school) ;  3) It’s really yummy as I love the crunchy texture of this cookie; 4) I can opt not to use egg in the cookie batter thus it’s suitable for those who are vegetarian.

This recipe is an adaptation of a cookie recipe from Quaker Oats which I tweaked over the years.

Ingredients:

Butter Oats Cookies

Butter Oats Cookies

125g butter (soften) — if you use unsalted butter, then remember to add a pinch of salt.
120g sugar — I’d usually reduced to 100g, and some still find it a tad too sweet
120g plain flour (sifted)
3 level tsp of baking powder (sifted with the flour)
8 tbsp of oats (Quaker Oats/ roll oats)
A handful of raisin (add more if you like raisin, otherwise you may omit this altogether);  or you may substitute this with cranberries (which I did this year)
* 1/3 bowl of desiccated coconut — optional …  (and if I add this, I would reduce the same amount of oats, give a slight variation from the original recipe
* 1 egg — optional
* to make it more colourful, you may also wish to add glazed red/ green cherries on top of the cookies.

Method:
1. Cream butter till creamy then add sugar. Mix it well. (If you wish to add egg, you need to add in at this step)
2. Then add in sifted flour. Use a spatula to fold in the flour and ensure it is well mixed.
3. Add the oats and raisin/ chopped cranberries (and desiccated coconut if you wish).
4. Once it’s well mixed, use a teaspoon and drop the cookie batter onto a baking tray.
5. Baked in a pre-heated oven at 165-170C for 20 minutes or till cookies is golden brown.
6. Remove from tray while still warm and set aside to cool.

Great with coffee or a cup of cold milk!!!

 

Butter Oats Cookies with raisins and glazed cherries

Butter Oats Cookies with raisins and glazed cherries

Quick Simple Meal #3: Mac & Cheese (+vege)

You’d probably notice that in my quick simple meals (for my kids), one of the key ingredients is always cheese!

My kids are what you’d call “banana” – Chinese, but more angmoh (Caucasian) as they prefer Western food over Chinese, speaks mostly English at home and in school. They usually prefer sandwiches, pasta, pizza and anything cheese over rice with dishes.

So, this is another one of their favourite: macaroni and cheese. However, rather than just making the usual plain mac & cheese, I’d usually sneak in some vegetables into their meal.

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Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

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My kids’ fav – Mac & cheese

1 cup of macaroni (approx) – cooked per instructions on packaging
1 tbsp of olive oil
A clove of garlic – finely chopped
A small onion – finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup of chicken stock
A bunch of broccoli/ cauliflower florets
Carrots – finely julienne
3-4 tbsp of cooking cream
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
A dash of Italian herbs *optional
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup of mozzarella or pizza toppings cheese
4-5 tbsp of Japanese breadcrumbs/ panko
Chicken stock cube (knorr/ maggi) *optional

Method:

1. Add approximately 1 tsp of oil to the pan and saute the garlic till fragrant. Then add in the onion and stir till soften.
2. Once the onion is soft, add in the butter. As the butter melted, add in the flour and stir it well. Then slowly pour in the warm milk and keep stirring. The mixture may turn a little lumpy, but it’s ok. Just keep stirring till the flour is cooked.
3. Then pour in the chicken stock and stir till the mixture turns creamy. If it’s too thick, you may add more stock or water.
4. Once you have a nice creamy consistency, add in the vegetable and simmer for a few mins before adding in the cooked macaroni. Simmer for another 1-2 mins. If the sauce thicken, add some water.
5. Season it with salt and pepper (and Italian herbs if you like), and and just before you removed it from the heat, add the cream and cheddar cheese
6. Scoop it out into a baking dish (I used two individual 5″ ceramic pie plate) and top it with the breadcrumbs and mozzarella cheese.
7. Bake for 10-12 mins or till the cheese is browned.
8. Serve warm.

Quick Simple Meal #2: Cheese Baked Rice

Sorry … this was supposed to be posted back in 2014, after the quiche recipe. But one thing led to another and I delayed in posting this. Thus, looks like this will become my first post for 2015. Happy New Year to all (to all reading my blog). Hopefully I’ll be updating this blog more frequently than I did last year. So, here’s another quick meal which I would like to share with you.

Another one of my kids’ (and hubby too!) favourites. However, instead of calling it Baked Rice, they have always called it “sticky rice”.

It is another one of a quick simple meals which I like to prepare for the kids. However, this recipe is a “cheat way” of making baked rice. The right way of it is doing a bechamel sauce (the white sauce) and adding chicken stock before adding the rice and other ingredients.

My cheat way of making the baked rice is using Campbell Cream of Chicken. I use a lot of Campbell soup for my quick meals, although I’m trying to cut down on this as much as I can especially when making meals for my girls.

Baked rice1

Cheese Baked Rice

 

Anyway, here’s my simplified version of Baked Rice (The portion below is just nice for 2 kids size meals)

Baked rice2

Baked Rice @ “Sticky Rice”

Ingredients:

1 clove of garlic – finely chopped
1 small onion – finely chopped
1/2 cup of mixed frozen vege or carrots & broccoli florets (or any vege the kids like – cauliflower, asparagus, corns)
3-4 tbsp of Cream of Chicken
1/2 cup of fresh milk or cooking cream
1/2 cup of meat – either chicken/roast chicken, ham, sausages or even luncheon meat
1/4 cup of water – optional
1 1/2 bowl (or more) of rice (cooked)
1-2 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup (or more) of mozzarella or pizza toppings cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
a dash of Italian herbs (optional)

Method:

1. Add oil into the saucepan, and saute the garlic till fragrant, then add in the onion.
2. Once the onion is soft, you can add in the mixed vege. If you are using fresh vege, I’d suggest you add the carrots first, and leave the broccoli to the last.
3. Next add the protein (whatever that you’re using). Give it a stir.
4. Turn down the heat (low-medium heat) and then add the cream soup. Dilute it with a bit of water, then add in the rice. Mix it well.
5. Pour in the milk or cooking cream and let it simmer for a few minutes. There should be some sauce in the pan, and if you find it too thick, you may either add some water or milk. Season it with salt & pepper. (Note: the cream soup is usually quite salty, then watch out when you add salt to the rice). Alternatively, you may also add another tbsp of cream soup if you like. It all depend on your own taste.
6. Once you have a creamy consistency, you may add some shredded cheddar cheese at this point if you like the cheesy taste in the rice. Otherwise, scoop it up into a baking dish (I usually used two 5″ ceramic pie plate, and topped it with the cheese.
7. Then bake at 160C for 10-12 mins (depending on your oven) on the top heat, or until the cheese has melted and brown.
8. Served it warm

Quick Simple Meal #1: Quiche (Bacon, Ham, Mushroom & Spinach Quiche)

My kids love anything cheese. Cooked them anything with cheese, they’d gladly finish their meal without much of a complain. As I work during the day, I’d try my best to make them dinner, but weekdays dinner would usually be a quick simple yet delicious meal.

Today as I was cracking my head on what to cook for them, I remembered that I have a “ball” of short crust pastry sitting in the freezer for a few weeks now, and when I rummaged through my fridge, I found all the ingredients needed to make a small quiche. So tonight’s dinner – Quiche.

A whole plate of yummy Quiche

A whole plate of yummy Quiche

 

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Yummylicious Quiche

Ingredients

(just nice for 3-4 person)

Fillings for quiche:
4-5 slices of ham (I used honey baked ham)
5-6 strips of bacon
1 onion – chopped
16-20 fresh white button mushrooms – sliced
A bunch of baby spinach
4 eggs
4 tbsp of cooking cream (or substitute with whipping cream)
4 tbsp of fresh milk
1 cup of cheese (I used grated cheddar cheese)
salt and pepper (to taste)

For the short crust pastry:
125 gm of all purpose flour
60 gm of butter (soften & cubed)
1/2 – 1 tsp of sugar (optional – but I like the pastry with a slight tinge of sweetness)
A pinch of salt
ice water

Method:

Pastry:
1. Put the flour, salt and sugar is a bowl and then add the softened butter
2. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter into the flour until you see a breadcrumbs texture. It’s ok to have some small lumps, but just ensure there’s no big lumps of butter. Don’t overwork the mixture.
3. Drizzle in the iced/ cold water into the mixture and work it gently into a dough. Do not knead it. (You just need to bind the dough together and not knead it like a bread dough).
4. Best to cling wrap and chill it for 15-30 mins. (Sometimes when I’m press for time, I’ll just skip this step)

Fillings:
1. Chop the onions, bacon and ham into small bite size. Set aside
2. Slice the button mushrooms
3. Heat up a pan, then add in the bacon and fry till its crispy. Set it aside. In the same pan, add in the ham and the chopped onions and fry till the onions soften. You may add some oil or butter at this point if there’s not much lard from the bacon.
4. Then add the mushroom and stir it till soften and lastly add in the spinach. Give it a quick stir and ladle everything out. Set it aside to cool

5. In a bowl, crack the eggs. Add in the cream and milk and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Mix it well and set aside.
6. Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide it up to two portions. Rolled dough out in a lightly floured surface into a very thin pastry (probably as thick as a 50c coin).
6. Roll it up in the rolling pin and put it over your pie plates. (I used two 6″ pie plates)
7. You can choose to blind bake the pastry for approximately 8-10 mins. (I like to do this to get a crunchier pastry crust)
8. Remove it from the oven and add the cooked fillings & bacon. Slowly pour in the egg mixture till it’s 3/4 full. Then top it up with the cheese. Pour more egg mixture in till it almost reach the brim of the pie crust/ plate.
9. Bake it for approx 25-30 mins at 160C or until the egg mixture is firm or the quiche is golden brown.

Note: I baked it top & bottom heat for approximately 10 mins till the top turned golden brown and crusty and then switched it to just the bottom heat and baked it until the egg mixture firmed up. Alternatively you can just choose to cover the top with aluminium foil if it gets too brown to ensure it doesn’t burn.

You can add or remove some of the ingredients in the filling to your own preference but I find this is a good way to “camouflage” and get my kids to eat more vege.

This is definitely one of the simple dish to make and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Can be served on it’s own or with a side salad.

 

Quiche

Quiche

 

Singapore Favourites #3: Singapore Hokkien Mee

Hokkien Mee in Singapore is very different from those you’ll find in KL and Penang. In KL, if you ordered Hokkien Mee, you’ll get a plate of savoury dark colored thick noodles ladened with crispy pork lard, prawns, squids and vege. However, if you’re in Penang and you ordered Hokkien Mee, you’ll get a bowl of noodles with rich prawn broth (and in Penang, this nooddle is also known as hae-mee)

In Singapore, Hokkien Mee is also known as Hokkien hae-mee, but you’ll get none of the above. Not even close to it. I had my first encounter with this fried noodle when I visited Singapore more than 30+ years ago. My aunt and uncle asked if I wanted Hokkien Mee and I replied yes! Imagine my shock when the plate was placed in front of me. A plate of gooey looking yellow noodle + coarse beehoon with some prawns and squids on it. A pale comparison to the KL Hokkien Mee for sure. However, when I had my first taste of the noodle, I was surprised to find that it’s very tasty – especially with a good sambal and a squeeze of lime/ calamansi.  A really good plate of Hokkien Mee is usually a full flavoured, tasty, savoury noodle dish. I have to say that this is one of the best hawker food in Singapore, and I would go around Singapore looking for a good plate of Hokkien Mee.

 

So here’s my version of it. I have to say that I haven’t master it yet (as I find that it’s still lack the “ooomph” factor, and the “wok-hei”) but for home-cooking, I’m quite happy with it (for now!).

 

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Singapore Hokkien Mee

 

Ingredients:
(Recipe serves approx 6-8)

Singapore Hokkien Mee

Singapore Hokkien Mee

500 gm fresh egg (yellow) noodles
500 gm coarse white vermicelli noodles (beehoon)
200 gm prawns (heads and shells removed)
200 gm squids (cut into rings)
150gm pork belly
3 eggs (beaten and seasoned with a bit of soy sauce)
50 gm beansprouts
4-5 tbsp of oil/ lard
3-4 garlic (finely minced)
2-3 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
4-5 cups of stock*
pepper & salt
Chinese chives

For garnishing:
Sambal
Lime/ calamsi
lard cubes (optional)

Method:
1. In a wok, heat up approximately 1 tbsp oil/ lard. Scramble the eggs until 3/4 done but it is still moist and removed from the work.
2. Add 1 tbsp of oil and fry the minced garlic till fragrant and then add the yellow and vermicelli noodles. Add 2 cups of stock and over medium heat, continue to stir to allow the vermicelli to absorb the stock.
3. Meanwhile, in another pot, blanched the prawns, squid and pork belly, and set aside. Cut the pork belly into thin strips.
4. (Back to the noodles) Once the vermicelli has soften, add another 1-2 cups of stock and add the scrambled eggs back into the wok. Cover the wok and allow it to simmer for approximately a minute or two. Uncover the wok, and add the beansprouts. Stir the noodles to mix well.
5. Season the noodles with fish sauce, soy sauce, salt & pepper to taste.
6. Lastly add in the prawns, squids, pork belly and chives. Stir to mix well, and simmer for another 30 seconds (Add more stock at this stage if you find that the noodles are too dry).
7. Serve it warm with sambal, a wedge of lime/ calamansi and top it with pork lard cubes.

 

*To make the stock
Prawn shells (I reserved and freezed the prawn heads and shells over weeks/ months)
Pork or chicken bones (or chicken cubes)
Water (enough to be reduced to at least 4-5 cups of stock)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
Salt & pepper
2-3 small cubes of rock sugar
Oil

Method: 

1. Fry the garlic in some oil, and then add in the prawn heads and shells. Fry till it’s fragrant.
2. Add water and all other ingredients above, and boil for at least an hour to obtain a rich broth. (The longer you boil it the better!), and season it well.

 

 

I am submitting this to Asian Food Fest Singapore Month

Singapore Favourites #2: Chai Tau Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

Chai-tau-kway (菜头粿) or Fried Carrot Cake (this is different from the ang-moh carrot cake), is one of the most liked hawker food in Singapore. Go to any foodcourt or hawker centers, there will be a stall selling this, typically the stall will also be selling either orh lua (fried oyster/ oyster omelette), char kway teow, or hokkien mee, or all those mentioned.

And there’s two versions of the chai-tau-kway / fried carrot cake: the white version and the black version. What’s the difference? The black version is added with thick black sweet sauce, thus the fried carrot cake has the sweet tinge to it. Personally, I like mine savoury as it is closer to the KL style. So the recipe below is for the white savoury version.

Chai Tau Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

Chai Tau Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

 

The recipe below is adapted from Singapore Mr MakanSutra and Makan Guru, Mr KF Seetoh

The Carrot (Radish) Cake

Chai tau kway

Chai tau kway

Ingredients

1/2 medium size radish – approx 250g (julienne/ shredded) – you can add some shredded carrots if you wish to
175g rice flour
600ml water (300ml room temp water + 300ml hot water)
1 tsp salt

 Method:
1.Blanch the shredded radish with boiling water till soften. If need to, give it a quick boil for 2-3mins. Strain the radish and discard the water.
2. Combine rice flour, salt and the 300ml room temperature water in a metal bowl and mix it well.
3. Add the radish into the rice flour solution, and add the other half of water (300ml hot water)
4. Sit the bowl over a pot of boiling water, and stir the mixture till it thickens (or you can also do this step in a non-stick pan/ wok)
5. Once the mixture thicken, transfer it to a metal/ enamel tray and smoothen it down.
6. Steam on high for approximately 30-40 mins.
7. Once it’s done, leave it until completely cool to allow the radish cake to firm up (or best to leave it overnight).

The steam radish/ carrot cake

The steam radish/ carrot cake

Frying the Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

The ingredients for frying the chai tau kway

The ingredients for frying the chai tau kway

The steamed radish cake (cut enough for 1 or 2 persons*)
(Note: *, the rest of the cake can be stored in the refrigerator)

1 to 2 tbsp chai por (preserved radish/turnip)
2 to 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce (added to the eggs)
3 tbsp of oil (vegetable oil or lard oil)
Dash of white pepper

1 tbsp of thick dark sweet sauce *
(Note: * if you’re making the dark/ sweet version).

Spring onion and/or coriander for garnishing

 Method:

1. Cut up steamed radish cake into small chunks.
2. In a non-stick pan, heat up the oil and fry radish cake chunks till lightly browned and crisp. Set aside on the pan.
3. Add more oil and fry the garlic till slightly brown and add the chai por. Fry till fragrant. Drizzle more oil if it is too dry.
(Note: you may add some chilli paste/ sambal at this stage if you want it spicy, or you may serve the sambal on the side)
5. Add the fish/ soy sauce into the beaten eggs and slowly pour the eggs all over radish cake. Allow the eggs to set slightly before flipping it over.
6. Once you get the crispness that you want, you can plate it up and garnish it with chopped spring onion and coriander

For the “black” sweet version:
– Drizzle the thick sweet sauce towards the end and stir fry it to mix well.
(Note: this is not the favourite of my family, thus I do not make this).

 

Disclaimer: The KL style of CTK has bean sprouts and chives added to it, thus giving it more texture. As I grew up eating this version, I guessed the white version of the chai-tau-kway is thus more palatable to my taste and liking.

Chai tau kueh/ Fried carrot cake

Chai tau kway/ Fried carrot cake – the KL style with beansprouts and chives

 

I am submitting this to Asian Food Fest Singapore Month