Tag Archives: Recipe

A recipe that’s going to be passed down the generations

30 Jan

There’s one Chinese New Year cookie that I really love – pineapple tarts. But I’m quite specific about the type of tart. I only eat the sort with the melt in your mouth pastry. The pineapple filling has to be just right – lots of pineapple, sweet but not too sweet, with just the right amount of tartness to cut through the richness of the pastry.

In Singapore, it costs a pretty penny for a bottle of pineapple tarts especially during the festive season. There will be sellers that proclaim that their wares are “hand-grated pineapples” or “cognac infused” and such. So pineapple tarts have always seemed close to impossible to master on your own unless you had lots of skill or a secret recipe.

With a little time on my hands and a huge craving of pineapple tarts which aren’t readily available here, I embarked on a hunt for THE recipe. Unfortunately, I came up with a lot of recipes for the pastry but few for the pineapple filling as many Singaporeans ended up buying the jams premade. The recipes for the jams that I found often used canned pineapples which definitely cut down the time but to me, seemed to be a short cut and sugar laden. I was also not keen to buy any more ingredients than I already had in my kitchen as the likelihood of me finishing it would be low with only a couple of months to go in Melbourne. So I took the plunge and experimented with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

It took me 2 goes with the jam to get it just right for my tastebuds and it allowed me to find out what the deal was with “hand grated” pineapple jams vs “food processor” pineapple jams. It also allowed me to tweak the pastry recipe to make it easier to handle and have a higher melt in your mouth factor.

The tarts aren’t actually difficult to do. It is just time consuming. From 1 large pineapple, I get 1 small bowl of jam (refer to the picture to get an idea of the ratio!). The jam actually makes about 70 cookies (depending on the size of the cookies) which can fill up 2 small jar as a gift but the time spent stirring the jam while it dries out is quite significant. It isn’t one of those things you can leave to simmer while doing something else.

Having said that, there is a certain amount of satisfcation I have looking and eating the cookies. It’s a definite keeper this recipe – hopefully, I’ll have time to make them once a year for family for Chinese New Year!

Pineapple tarts

Pineapple jam

Ingredients

1 large pineapple

5 tbs honey

1 tbs flour

3 tbs sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground clove

¼ tsp ground start anise

Method

  1. Skin and de-eye 1 large pineapple. Core the pineapple and chop the flesh into quarters.
  2. Grate the pineapple and strain the pulp. Drink up the juice!
  3. Using a non-stick wok, fry the pulp until dry.
  4. Add the honey and stir continuously.
  5. Add the flour, sugar and spices. Stir until combined.
  6. Allow to cool and form small balls of jam to be placed on the tart.

Tips

  1. What’s the difference between hand grating and food processing? Hand grating means that the pulp has more “body” vs food processing where the pulp gets chopped up to finer bits. Hand grating also means that any little bit of core you miss out coring out ends up as a long fibrous bit in your jam. Food proccessing does give the option of using the core but one can end up with a jam that is softer as the fibres are a lot smaller.
  2. Be patient with the straining as you want the pulp to be dry. If you don’t strain well, you end up having to spend more time over the stove drying the pulp out. At the same time, you don’t want to place all the pulp in a cheese cloth and squeezing all the juice out as you need some of the juice to caramelise and give the pulp the flavor.
  3. What is I don’t have a wok? The wok is ideal as there is a large surface area to allow the pulp to dry but it is not 100% necessary. A saucepan works just fine.
  4. How dry is dry? I found that the pulp is dry enough when it starts to form a ball when you stir. It needs to be this dry as the jam needs to have a certain amount of “thickness” to allow you to make them into balls.
  5. The honey is used to make the jam sticky. Sugar on it’s own doesn’t have enough binding abilities.
  6. Every pineapple varies in sweetness so I suggest you taste the jam before you add the sugar.
  7. The flour gives the jam a firmness (like jam made with a bread maker)
  8. You can use a melon baller to give a uniformed sized ball each time.

Pastry

(Adapted from The Little Teochew)

Ingredients

1.6 cups all purpose flour

0.2 cup corn flour

150g butter (cold)

2 egg yolks + 2 tbs cold water (½ egg yolk for glazing, 1½ to add to the mixture)

3 tbs icing sugar

¼ tsp vanilla

Method

  1. Using a food processor, blitz the 2 flours and icing sugar with butter until crumbs form.
  2. Add the vanilla essence to 1½ of the egg yolk/water mixture.
  3. Slowly pouring the liquid mixture into the crumbs until it just comes together.
  4. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to about 0.8cm – 1cm thickness and place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the tart base.
  6. Place a jam ball on a tart base and press down gently on the ball.
  7. Using the remaining egg yolk as a wash, paint a light layer over the tart.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 160 degrees celsius

Tips

  1. You can rub the butter in with the flour but I find that the food processor is faster and less mess. It also takes out the muscle work of having to cut up the butter to rub in.
  2. Add the liquid portion to the crumb portion tablespoon by tablespoon until it just comes together. This is to avoid having a very sticky dough that is impossible to work with.
  3. I find that rolling the pastry out first at this point is easier as the butter is slightly melted, rather than putting it into the fridge and then having to exert strength to roll it out. Then I put the rolled out pastry into the fridge so that it is easier to handle (and less messy) for cutting up.  But don’t leave it for too long as it hardens up and makes it very difficult to cut.
  4. If you are working in a warm environment, I suggest planning everything and laying everything out first before starting on the pastry as this would make it a lot easier and less messy.
  5. The amount of pastry is slightly more the jam usually but it depends on the size of your pineapple.

Going bananas

17 Jan

Time spent with the family, the lack of internet access and the almost constantly overcast sky meant that I have neglected the blog for a while.  I must say that I really miss it!  And then when I was finally ready to blog again, my DSLR died on me.  Sniff!  I felt so crippled without my camera.  Who food blogs without a camera?  Who can?  That was enough to make me go bananas.

Anyhow, the hubs bought 2kg of bananas for $1.  We all know what that means –  Bananas that have to be eaten or used ASAP.  The family suggested banana chips in a bid to be helpful.  The banana chips that we were familiar with are deep fried (in oil used goodness knows how many times) and coated with sugar.  I was aiming for something a little healthier.  So I opted for baking them.  Each tray was finished even before the next tray was in.  Highly addictive but highly labor intensive.  So the rest of the bananas have to be used in a different way – let me know if you have any ideas?  My fall back plan is always muffins.

Banana chips

Ingredients

Ripe bananas

Olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  2. Slice banana into 2mm slices and lay on an oiled baking tray.
  3. Spray or drizzle some olive oil over banana slices.
  4. Put into oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Take out and allow to cool on a cooling rack before placing in bottles.

Tips

  1. It is easier to slice the banana at an angle to get larger pieces to save some time.
  2. The riper the banana, the softer it is and more difficult it is to handle but the sweeter the chips.  You have been warned.
  3. The riper the banana, the browner the chips will be as the sugars caramelize.
  4. The riper the banana, the more likely it is to burn.  If that is the case, turn the temperature down a little and take out when the chips are hard.  It will cool to a crisp.
  5. You can toss with honey and nutmeg.  But honestly, they are so good plain, I just don’t bother.
  6. Raw bananas can be substituted but I find them rather tasteless, necessitating the addition of honey and such.  Also, there is a slimy after feel when being handled before cooking which I dislike.

Wonton soup

6 Nov

Wonton

I’ve been looking for some comfort food.  I have recollections of helping my grandma make wontons in her kitchen and in my memory, they were good.  We often eat wonton noodles from hawker centres in Singapore and they could never measure up to the ones my grandma made.

Chubby Hubby had a recipe that looked easy enough.  But my grandma had spring onions in hers and water chestnut.  I was too lazy to hunt the water chestnut down so I settled for just spring onion.

This recipe is a definite keeper – everyone polished it up and the little one was quite enthusiastic about it too!

Wonton

Adapted from Chubby Hubby

Ingredients

60 wonton wrappers

60g piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled

450g minced chicken

1 spring onion sliced finely

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine

2 teaspoons sesame oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Method

Slice the ginger into thin slices and soak in 100ml of cool water for 5 minutes.

Mix the minced chicken with all the other ingredients and add the ginger water.  Reserve the ginger slices for the stock.  Stir the mixture until it binds.  The result is slightly watery but don’t worry.

Place a teaspoon of meat into a wonton wrapper and fold the wrapper in half to form a triangle.  Seal with a little bit of water at the edges.

You can freeze the wontons and use at a later date.

Place the wontons in boiling stock and cook until they float.  I used a homemade chicken stock prepared and frozen beforehand.

Serve with noodles and fresh Chinese broccoli.