These are what I've been busy with for the past few days. The variety of cookies I made for this cny is fewer compared to previous years. It seems like the variety and amount baked is on the decline each year. Maybe next year, it will be minus one or two!
These pineapple tarts are quite healthy to eat. In fact I used two different types of pastry.
For the healthier version, I used olive spread and a little egg. The other version was half butter and half olive spread. This is in line with my self-created healthy-eating programme.
At least I can enjoy the tarts without feeling so guilty.
The healthy ones - no butter used.
All egg-glazed and waiting to be baked!
Half butter and half olive spread! Just as yummy!
The chocolate chip cookies is an improved version of my previous bake. I made a little adjustment to get the preferred texture. It is really full of mini chocolate chips with eat bite!
These peanut cookies are not the crunchy type. They have to be handled carefully or it will simply break into pieces. But they are wonderfully peanutty and melt in the mouth with each bite.
Why pay $50 or more for a kilogramme of sweet meat? The price of sweet meat or bak kwa has been escalating over the years. I simply refused to pay so much for it though I love to eat it.
There must be a way to beat these exorbitant prices!
Thus I decided to make my own sweet meat. I've been quite encouraged by some recent postings of fellow bloggers making sweet meat. Homemade sweet meat? Why not?
I have on hand a few recipes and I played around with the seasonings from the various recipes, tweaked a little here and there and came up with my version. Hmm... That was easy enough.!
My version is very much healthier; I used premium lean meat with minimal fat. It turned out good and tender despite all the leanness. My hub said it's good, so happy ending!
(The premium meat cost me $14.50 and I got slightly over a kilogramme of sweet meat!)
Raw, seasoned minced meat on a parchment paper
Using a rolling pin to flatten the minced meat
This tray just came out of the oven after ten minutes,
just to firm up the meat before slicing
These are sliced and ready for grilling!
But I wrapped them and stored in the fridge for cny.
Out of curiosity, I bought a packet of pineapple jam. I wanted to find out if it tasted as good as homemade. As the saying goes, "Curiosity kills the cat" and I was that cat! I was practically 'murdered' by the sheer sweetness of the jam. It merely tasted sweet. It had a very negligible pineapple flavour! I guess the jam was made from unripe pineapples which were not matured sufficiently to exude it distinctive flavour. Blah! Never again will I buy it!!!
Fortunately, I still have a tub of homemade pineapple jam leftover from last year! It is still good and moist and the flavour is still as strong as when it was freshly made! I had kept it in an air-tight container and stored it in the chiller compartment. Hence its freshness is well-preserved. This is a saver! I don't have to make any jam.
What did I do with the commercially produced jam? To discard would be a waste; To use it in my tarts, would be a waste of effort! Since my own jam has a good, strong natural pineapple flavour, I mixed it with the store-bought one! The result turned out good, a nice balance of sweetness and tartness as my own jam was not too sweet!
My Pineapple Jam Recipe:
10 pineapples (Usually I would use 5 ripe ones and 5 semi-ripe to get a stronger flavour)
1 1/2 kg coarse sugar (use more or less as preferred)
1 6-cm cinnamon stick
Remove skin and 'eyes' of pineapples. The vendor will only remove the skin but not all the 'eyes'. You have to remove the eyes if you want a nice jam without any blemish, i.e. little black dots. Remove the hard centre before grating or chopping.
You may squeeze out some of the juice using a muslin cloth. Don't discard the juice. Use it to make a pineapple drink. It's very refreshing!
Next, place the grated pineapple, sugar and cinnamon stick in a big pot. Using a big pot is easier to cook and spread the jam out. Cook on high heat to bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently initially. Once the mixture is bubbling, lower the heat to medium low, to simmer. At this stage, more frequent stirring is required to ensure the jam does not burn. Burnt jam tastes bitter. You can taste the jam to check for the sweetness. Add more sugar if required.
As the jam starts to dry up, stirring has be continuous. To test if the jam is ready, scoop a teaspoon of jam and place it in the fridge to cool it quickly. Once cooled, roll the jam to check if it's too soft or watery. Continue cooking until you get the consistency required. Be careful not to cook it too dry. If the jam is too dry and 'hard' to the touch, it will not be suitable for open tarts. The jam will dry further during baking and will harden and you will end up with hard pineapple tarts! The whole cooking process for this amount of jam will take about 3 hours. If less pineapples are used, the cooking process is shorter.
I used honey pineapples as the other types available were unripe at the store I frequent.
They cost slightly more but I have no regrets as they were flavourful!
It's been four weeks since I last baked. With the CNY round the corner, I have to bake something to give away. I don't like buying CNY cookies as they are usually overly sweet.
I baked sugee cookies which is first on my list. It has always been the first cookie to be baked. Sugee cookies keep well and last a long time. Though I am into eating healthy, that does not mean my relatives and friends have got to be in the same boat.
200g ghee (used QBB)
150g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
330g plain flour
egg glaze, optional
1. Cream ghee, sugar, vanilla essence and egg yolk till well mixed.
2. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour to ghee mixture to form a dough.
3. Roll dough into small balls place on ungreased baking tray. Glaze with egg.
4. Bake in preheated oven 165 deg C for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the preferred colour of cookies. Cool and store in airtight container.
The cookies are actually much lighter in shade. Guess it's my bad photography that made them look 'tanned'. Anyway I like the cracks on the sugee cookies which are their trademarks, liken to the 'feet' of macarons!
My blogging is getting less frequent nowadays. I've been cooking more than baking because I realised that my bake products have been partly responsible for my not-too-good health.
I am currently exploring healthy baking. Once I have mastered the perfect tweaking, will I share the recipes.
Cooking healthy is much easier than baking healthy. Cakes, cookies and some other baked products do not taste as great when butter is substituted.
For the coming festive season CNY, I will be baking a little just to get into the mood but the cookies will probably be healthier but not necessarily tastier??
I cooked curry the other day for lunch. It was a curry with a difference. There are many versions of curries with some using yoghurt, pureed tomatoes, milk and coconut milk.
I used unsweetened soya bean milk in place of coconut milk. While I know that coconut milk has some good health benefits, but its not so healthy benefits outweighed the pros. Coconut milk need not be struck off completely in any recipe but I can do with less of it for now.
I have used soya bean milk in cooking laksa and other dishes that required coconut milk. It did not the affect the taste of the dishes as the spices did a good job of camouflaging. I also cut down the oil for frying the spices. Hence you do not see a layer of oil gleaming on the surface of my curry.
Carrots, potatoes and a small portion of lean minced beefballs
A healthy spinach and mushroom dish with traces of oil and oyster sauce
I shan't post recipes for these because I know there are many curry and stir-fried veggies recipes available online. Any curry recipe will do, just substitute the coconut milk with something healthier