Sunday, 14 February 2010

Hearts & Hearts - Valentine's Day Cookies

Today is a very special occasion because both the Chinese New Year and western Valentine's Day happens to be fall on the same day on 14 February. In this case, no matter which event you are celebrating I am sure this year will be a great and loving year for everyone of you.

On this double-occasion, I guess anyone will be delighted to received such a box of self-made Valentin's Day cookies. For this set of "Butter Cookie With Melted Chocolate & Rose", I have add some rose petal on the half side of some heart shapes cookies before baking or for another design, I add the rose petal on the half hearts that is coated with white chocolate.

Baking is always full of fun and creation, ie. with a cute gift box, some assorted sizes of heart shape cutters, butter cookie dough, chocolate icing and colourful heart shapes sprinkles you can get everything done within an hour or so......

Ingredient: (make 20 - 25)
150g Top Flour
125g Butter, cut into small cubes
1 Tablespoon Icing Sugar
20g Milk Powder
1/2 Egg Yolk
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence

1. Sieved flour, milk powder and icing sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Beat egg yolk and vanilla essence together before adding into the dough.
4. Quickly mix everything to form a soft dough, divide it into two portion in separate plastic bag and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or so.
5. Roll dough out to 0.5cm thickness on a lightly floured tabletop and cut out with assorted heart shape cutters.
6. Place cut dough on baking tray that is layered with baking paper, pop the whole tray into the fridge while waiting for the oven to preheat to 180 degree. (keep the dough in the fridge after cut out will retain it's shape)
7. Bake the cookies for about 15 - 20 minutes (depending on the size of the cookies/oven type) till slightly golden brown.
8. Remove from oven, and rest the cookies on the tray for about 2 minutes before transferring them to wire-rack to cool completely before doing the icing/decoration.

For Decoration/Icing:
50g White Chocolate, melted
Some Assorted Colour Heart Shape Sprinkles
Some Dried Rose Petal, roughly cut

1. Melt the white chocolate by using either double-boiled method over a pot of simmering water or using microwave method (starts with medium/medium low heat of your microwave to melt the chocolate at 20/30 second interval, stir the mixture on and off till the drizzling consistency that you prefer).
2. Do not over cooked or else it will be harden.
3. Purchase edible dried rose from floral tea-shop/Chinese medical hall, use a small scissor to roughly cut the petal into small parts that is resemble the rose use in the photos here.
4. Use your creativity to decorate your lovely cookies in your way to express your loves and cares to your love one, family or friends......

This is a pretty simple design as I used 5 assorted colour heart shapes sprinkles to join them into a flower shape. So wait no more, if you still wondering what to get for this Valentine's Day, maybe you can start pulling those ingredients from your kitchen pantry and start working on something :) Here I wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year & Valentine's Day. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Chinese New Year @ Chinatown

Every year during a few weeks before Chinese New Year, most of the people would love to hangout around "Chinatown - 牛车水" area. No matter which country you are from or going to visit, you will definitely see crowds of people gathering in Chinatown area in order to join in the Chinese New Year atmosphere or they will be there either buying or sourcing for New Years goodies and clothing.

Since this year, we are busying with the house renovation @ Pinnacle - Duxton, we have more chances to roam around Chinatown area which is within walking distance to the apartment upon taking MRT.

Along the Temple Street @ Chinatown area, you can see the Chinese New Year Flea Market which starts from 23 January 2010 to 13 February 2010 which is the Eve of Chinese New Year. The Flea Market starts around noon time till late evening where it is much cooling to enjoy the night lighting as well as stroll through those stalls along the stretch where you can sample most of the goodies before buying.

There are stalls selling all kinds of Chinese New Year goodies like:- Pineapple Tarts, Shrimp Rolls, Love Letters, Peanut Puffs, Kueh Balu, Bee Hives and etc. Whichever it is, this is the time where you can get to eat all sort of your favourite New Year goodies till your waist length expanded :p

Other than the above Chinese New Year goodies, here are some of the "Must" have in each household too.... "Mandarin Orange - 橘子/柑" which everyone who goes to house visiting/greetings will accompanied with a pair of this which is a traditional practice among the Chinese. It symbolises "Gold" and all the good wishes for the new year.

"Pomelo - 柚子" is also a common fruit that can be found during Chinese New Year and Mooncake Festival. The mandarin word "柚子" sounds like the word for "to have".

"Bak Kwa - 肉干" is usually minced pork with seasoning/spices that are made into thin square layer and BBQ over Charcoal fire. And the price of this can be higher during Chinese New Year season at around $50 or more per kg for brand like Lim Chee Guan that people will spend hours queuing for their Bak Kwa..

Cakes such as "Sticky Rice Cake - 年糕" have symbolic significance on many levels. Their sweetness symbolizes a rich, sweet life, while the layers symbolize rising abundance for the coming year and lastly the round shape signifies family reunion.

There are also a lot of Auspicious Chinese New Year vegetables that can being seem and found during this period of time. And out of these vegetable, Chinese Leek is the most common type that each household will grab and store at home. They believed that it sounds like "counting - 算" in Teochew dialect.Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Sakae "荣" Yusheng

Finally after the long waiting time, my favourite Chinese New Year "Appetiser" finally appears at Sakae sushi. Guess what, Chinese New Year is just 3 days away from now...... And when I saw the Sakae "Rong" Yusheng Poster outside Sakae outlet, I quickly approached the Manager and ask when it is available........(p/s: CNY Sakae frog photo credit to Sakae Facebook link....)

"Yusheng - 鱼生" mainly consists of strips of raw fish (most commonly salmon) that is mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments. "Yusheng- 鱼生" is interpreted from the Mandarin word "余升" which means an increase in abundance and prosperity.

It is normally a raw fish salad appetiser that is consumed through out the 15 days of Chinese New Year but most commonly on the 7th day which is the "Ren Ri - 人日" meaning everyone's birthday.The ingredients are presented separately and are mixed together either by the waitress or diners and with it will accompany with auspicious greetings while adding each ingredient onto the plate.

When the ingredients are added, the diners will shout out “lo hei - 捞起" while standing around the dish to toss the ingredients as high as possible to symbolize rising prosperity. This action is usually accompanied by shouts of “huat- 发" which means prosperity.

This year Sakae "Rong" Yusheng comes in 3 sizes which is available for either dine-in or delivery. And for Sashimi lover, you can add S$2.50 to enjoy additional servings of Salmon Sashimi with every Yusheng purchased.

"荣" Yusheng available in 3 sizes:-
1. Small (1 - 2 pax) @ S$18.88++
2. Medium(3 - 5 pax) @ S$29.88++
3. Large (6 - 10 pax) @ S$46.88++

~ For SAKAECard members, you will be able to enjoy S$2.00 off for the Medium/Large "Rong" Yusheng and CNY Party Tray.

~ For OCBC Cardmembers, you will be able to enjoy 10% off for the Medium/Large Yusheng & CNY Party Trays.

So without much delay we pop-in Sakae for lunch after Rey finished his kiddy class. Everyone were pretty excited when the "Yusheng - 鱼生" finally being served after about 10 minutes or so. Each of us are aiming at different ingredients of this appetiser, mum love the mixed shredded vegetables with the plum sauce while rey loves the crackers. Look at the generous cut of the Salmon Sashimi...... doesn't it add extra goodness to the Yusheng?

For your information, SAKAECard Members can top-up $2.00++ to enjoy additional servings of Salmon Sashimi with every "Rong" Yusheng purchased. And being a Sakae member, I won't missed out this opportunity of ordering extra boxes of "Rong" Yusheng to share with friends/relatives during Chinese New Year. And this year, the Yusheng box is "Red" in colour instead of the usual Sakae green.... Posted by Picasa

Glutinous Red Date With Osmanthus Syrup

There are all kinds of Chinese New Year after meal desserts and the most common few are:- Yam Paste With Gingko Nuts, Red Bean Puree With Lotus Seeds, Tang Yuan, Chng Teng and etc...... But what I am going to share with you today is something really simple and yet it will impressed your guest with it's "Golden Outlook". I have named it "桂花元宝" in Mandarin which mean Osmanthus Ingots.

This recipe required 3 main ingredients which are Red Dates(preferably those HUGE one so that it will be easier to do the stuffing), Glutinous Rice Flour(the filling) and the most important ingredient "Osmanthus Flower - 桂花" which will brings out the floral fragrance of this dessert. And in order to sweeten this dish and enhance the flavour of the stuffing, I will make a syrup using "Rock sugar - 冰糖" and "Candice winter melon - 冬瓜糖".

In order to slit open the Red Dates and remove the seed easily, it's best that you soaked it in warm water for about 5 - 10 minutes as to soften it. But if you wan to save the trouble of removing the seed, you can purchase those that is without seeds. I saw this HUGE red dates from one of the groceries stall near my area and it cost only $0.80 per 100g. With these detail photo above, I am sure it will give you a better ideas on how to prepare this Chinese New Year dessert.

Ingredients For Ingots:
16 - 18 Huge Red Dates, removed seeds
50g Glutinous Rice Flour
30ml or more Water

1. Rinse and clean away the soil/dirt on the outer skin of the red dates.
2. Soaked them in a bowl of warm water to soften it so that it will be easier to cut open and remove the seed in it.
3. Place the glutinous rice flour in a medium bowl, slowly add in the water and stir till it form a dough. (you might required more water)
4. Pinch about a marble size portion of the dough and stuffed it in each Red Dates.
5. Arrange the stuffed dates on a plate and steam it in a pot of boiling water on Medium heat for about 5 minutes.
6. When done, removed the dates from the pot, set aside to cool while preparing the Osmanthus Syrup.

~ For the procedure of the stuffing and steaming you can refer to the above photo for clearly explanation.

Ingredients For Osmanthus Syrup:
1/2 Tablespoon Of Osmanthus Flower
10g Rock Sugar
2 Strips of Candice Winter Melon, finely chopped
80ml Water
Extra Osmanthus Flower for topping

1. Bring water to boil in a small sauce, add in rock sugar and stir till the sugar melted.
2. Lower the heat, add in chopped winter melon and Osmanthus Flower and let it boiled for about 15 seconds.
3. Add in the cooked glutinous red dates and stir it through the sugar syrup and simmer till the syrup became a bit sticky.
4. Off the heat, removed the red dates and served it in small serving cups, drizzle with some osmanthus syrup & chopped winter melon then sprinkler some extra osmanthus flower to enhance the fragrant and outlook.

You can prepared all the ingredients and steps up to the steaming of the red dates and cooked the Osmanthus Syrup just before serving. Or alternatively, you can prepared everything and stored this dessert in the fridge and served it as a cold dessert. So no matter which method you prefer, I am sure this will make a great dessert for your guests this coming Chinese New Year.Posted by Picasa