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And please hurry while you’re at it!

Recently I developed a penchant for deep fried foods. Any sort of deep fried golden crispy greatness.  I dip everything I can lay my paws on in a batter and dump them in a cauldron of bubbling canola oil. The sticky glutinous sweet cakes (Nian Gao) and bananas above were the victims of my food forage yesterday.

Coincidently fried Nian Gao is also a childhood comfort food for me. Mum used to sandwich the Nian Gao with sweet potatoes before frying the sweet gooey stuff. She would put the just fried sweet cakes on a kitchen towel to drain off the excess oil before transferring them onto a platter. But somehow only a small percentage of the fried cakes made it to the platter. Most of them had gotten straight into my mouth and then into my quickly expanding mid-section. And I always wonder why I was such a chubby kid!

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Pineapple Tarts

Hello everybody. *taps into microphone*. I am back and I have an important announcement to make.

Chinese New Year is not Chinese New Year without pineapple pastries. Warning. Never attempt Chinese New Year without pineapple pastries. Never! Never ever!!

Otherwise be prepared to face your own gastronomic perils!

And become the laughing stock of the neighbourhood!

And get outcast by relatives!!

Your great grand-children might be black-listed from Havard!!!

Ok I’m a nutcase. What I’m not kidding about though, is how simple to make and delicious these little buggers are.

Ingredients (makes 46 tarts/balls)
220g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 egg yolks
375g plain flour
2 tbsp corn flour
50g icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg yolk for egg wash

About 530gm of cooked pineapple jam.
(either made from scratch or pre-made ones from the supermarket)
To make pineapple jam from scratch, peel and grate 2 ripe pineapples. Then squeeze gently to extract excess juice, but not till its as dry as the Sahara.
Add about 360gm of caster sugar and 5-6 cloves, and cook over low heat till sugar melts. The mixture should be wet and sticky, but with too much liquid. By then you should be exhausted. Put the jam in the fridge and make the tarts another day.

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Asian Meatballs

Every culture/cuisine has their own version of this highly comforting food, and I am not exactly sure where this one I often make originates from. But what I do know is that it knocks your socks off when you eat it. You can make them mini sized for a cocktail party too. It’s lethal people!

Ingredients (makes 32 medium magical meatballs)
500gm minced pork
handful of water chestnuts (about 10)
3 small purple/red onions
5-6 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of coriander
1/2 carrot, diced
2 large eggs
2 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
dash of chinese cooking wine
Vegetable oil for frying
1 tsp five spice powder (optional)

Finely slice the onions. Put on your goggles if you must.

Smash the garlic with the knife and give them hell!

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic to softened them but do not overcook. Remove from pan when soft and fragrant.

Finely chop the rest of the ingredients, crack in the eggs and mix everything into the minced meat, including the fried onions and garlic.

Give everything a good mix…..

And roll them up into balls.

Bake or pan fry the meatballs in medium heat, turning the balls over to evenly cook all sides.

Serve with some baked vegetables. I had mine with butter baked carrots, purple, red and sweet potatoes.

Ps: It’s also wonderful with your favourite gravy!

Gingerbread Trees

Yeah I know it’s a little too late but hey, some people love gingerbread so much they don’t wait for X’mas to savour them! I made this on Christmas eve and the house couldn’t have smelt more festive.

Ingredients (yield depends on your cookie cutter, I made about 32 trees)
110gm unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
110gm brown or muscavado sugar
1 large egg (about 60gm with shell)
2/3 cup full-flavour molasses
420gm plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Sift flour in a medium bowl and add salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until it turns into a light cream.

Add egg and molasses and beat till well blended.

At this point you might see curdles. Do not panic, it’s not the end of the world. Yet.

Gradually add flour mixture in 3 to 4 additions until all the ingredients are blended and the mixture turns into a sticky dough.
Divide dough into 3 portions, cling wrap them and chuck them into the chiller for 3-4 hours or better still, overnight, until the dough is firm enough to be manageable. Dividing the dough into many portions allows you to work in batches. Otherwise once out of the chiller, the dough softens and it will be much stickier and messier.
Now that the dough is firm, flour the work top generously and flatten the dough to about a quarter inch thickness, and (yes finally!) cut the dough with your Christmasy cookie cutter.

Line the deliciousness on baking paper with about 1 inch gap as they expand during baking.

Bake at 175 degrees Celsius in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies), or until the sides turn a little brown, or when the cookies are slightly firm at touch.
Decorate to your heart’s content or if you’re anything like me, pop them straight into your mouths.

Bingka Ubi Kayu (Baked Sweet Tapioca)

I simply cannot get enough of tapioca these days.  D-man loves it, so does the family, the friends, and the neighbours.  So please forgive me while I force you to acknowledge yet another South East Asian tapioca dessert.

Ingredients (makes a 8″ golden yummy cake)
300gm tapioca, grated
100gm coconut, grated & without skin
220ml coconut milk
30gm custard powder
30gm tapioca starch
80ml water
160gm sugar (I used brown)
pinch of sea salt
1 egg yolk for glazing

Lightly grease and line a 8 inch baking tin with paper.
Mix all the ingredients together, except the egg yolk, in a medium bowl.

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and steam on high heat for 30 minutes.

25 minutes after steaming, preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Remove the half cooked tapioca from the steamer and brush the top with beaten egg yolk.

Bake the cake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Now the toughest part. Wait for the cake to cool before cutting into serving pieces.

Kueh Talam Ubi Kayu (Steamed Tapioca Cake)

One of my favourite Nonya dessert. Its not sickeningly sweet and has a fragrant whiff of gula melaka (coconut palm sugar). Go wear your aprons right now!

Ingredients (makes a 8″ round deliciously sticky cake)
(bottom layer)
250gm grated tapioca
100gm gula melaka
100gm grated coconut, without skin
50gm tapioca starch, sifted
100ml water
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
(top layer)
400ml coconut milk
50gm rice flour, sifted
pinch of salt
few drops of pandan essence (optional)

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Banana Leaf Boats

Use this pretty and easy to make ornaments to dress up your cakes, pastries and what not. Its very green, literally, and costs next to nothing.
Before using banana leaves, always scald them in boiling water to remove any bacteria or yucky stuff that you won’t want to go near. Wipe the leaves dry and air them a little before cutting them.
Start off by cutting a fairly square piece. You can estimate a square by folding a triangle from the edge.

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This is the Berlin’s version of MacDonald’s, a must try when you go to the biggest city of Germany.  The legen-, wait for it, -dary Mr V. Braun says that if you don’t like currywurst, then you haven’t had one in Berlin!

My star of the wonderfully unhealthy but gratifying dish. If you had no such luck finding curry ketchup, simply improvise with tomato sauce and curry powder. You’ll need an extra dose of curry powder later anyway.

The traditional Berliner currywurst is made with knockwurst. But if you live in the tropics at 1°14′N 103°55′E of the world, I think its forgivable to use bratwurst like I had. This is so easy to make there won’t even be an ingredient list. All you need are the sausages, curry ketchup and curry powder.  Some people also put chopped onions and paprika for their adventurous palate.

Currywurst is typically served with chips, but I am not in a hurry to put on some kilos yet.  So I pan fry some baby potatoes with butter, garlic powder, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Grill, broil or cook the sausages anyway you like, pour on the tomato sauce and sprinkle lots of curry powder. Serve with potatoes, bread rolls and fresh salad to make it a full meal.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

If you missed going to BXG on Saturday, this is what you really missed. (you know who you are! *smirks*)

But don’t worry not one of them were wasted. :)

Ingredients (makes 16 cupcakes)
225gm unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
225gm brown sugar
225gm self-raising flour, sifted
1tsp baking powder
4 large eggs (about 65gm with shells on)
1tsp orange paste
zest of 2 oranges
120gm semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the topping
100gm plain dark chocolate chips
75gm whipping cream
1tsp orange paste

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We had a closed-door-by-invitation-only-exclusive D-I-Y mooncake party. Not cause we were stingy but fact is we only had 1 mold. It’s really quite fun and surprisingly easy, probably owing to the fact we had ready-made fillings and Jonalyn was such a great help. We threw traditions aside and made some wacky stuff like rainbow snow skin (at least A-gal tried) and even a couple with B&J’s cookie dough ice cream fillings. We didn’t manage to photograph the ice cream ones though. They went straight into our mouths.

“I want some gimme some.. Gimme!!”

They were not perfect and some even had cracks in them but uniqueness is the magical product of D-I-Y. In fact I think A-gal’s really proud of her success and totally addicted. I suspect she is secretly making some more at home right now.

Ps: that’s Kahlua the silly silky by the way. Tail chaser, bed humper and toilet roll burglar.