Monday, 29 September 2014

When Life Gives Angel Lemon Tart!

I mentioned in my very first publication (see ‘The First Laugh’) that my hobby is collecting diecast vehicles... you know, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Tomica that sort of collectible. It’s mostly cars with the occasional motorbike, helicopter, etc. To many, it seems rare, unusual and odd for a lady who cooks and cleans, to love what is considered a man’s hobby.

Respect took awhile and just as I was getting used to being ignored, I was warmly accepted as a (yay!) fellow collector! I celebrated by baking a Lemon Tart.

Sour lemon, Soft custard & Sweet pastry! Isn’t that just like understanding and accepting new people? You may start on a Sour note, but if you Soften a little, life is Sweet! So just for you, here’s my Lemon Tart recipe. The custard is soft, not a firm jelly.

You can, of course, halve the recipe and make just one tart, but you’ll discover how fast it’s all gobbled up... leaving you craving & wishing you had baked two! Don’t be impatient & move it around the oven in the middle of baking or your tart will end up creased like mine here! Kinda looks like some Gundam sketch, doesn’t it?

I tweaked it to use up the one small pack of 200 ml Emborg whipping cream all at one go! No need to bother with that bit of remainder, which usually hibernates somewhere in the fridge and one fine day gets thrown out... together with all the other forgotten stuff at the back.

I also threw in whatever pulp that went along with squeezing the juice – it’ll be all good in the end, trust me – I’m a collector!

Angel Lemon Tart

Sweet Pastry Crust (may require whisking)

Make 2 lots of Sweet Pastry (c’mon, just Google for this!).

Press the dough into 2 tart tins (with removable bottoms).

Poke the pastry all over with a fork.

Blind bake at 180°C for 15 minutes, or till lightly golden brown.

200 ml whipping cream
100 ml plain water (room temp)
3 lemons, unwaxed & unblemished
6 small eggs
Caster sugar, to taste (record your personal amount for future use)
Icing sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Zest all the lemons. Squeeze to extract 150 ml of juice & bits of pulp.

Crack all the eggs into a bowl. Stir to mix well. Sieve it.

Add in all the other ingredients, except the icing sugar.

Mix well till caster sugar dissolves. Do not beat.

Taste & adjust.

Fill the blind-baked tart shells.

Bake at 180°C for 15 to 20 mins. or till custard is set.

Allow to cool, then sprinkle some icing sugar on top, if you wish.

Serve with your sweetest smile!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lucky Little Tortoise

OMG! What’s that??? Ok first, stop shouting – I can hear you from all the way across my computer screen. I’m guessing you’ve never seen this before or never seen it shot like this.

It’s Ang Ku Kueh – a most lovely sweet teatime snack.

Really Fun to eat & makes me feel 10 years younger - like a kid again! (ok, so that’s stretching it a bit!) and speaking of stretching... Glutinous flour is kneaded to stretchy, gooey goodness with (now) a variety of paste fillings ranging from the famous mung bean to durian to coconut (first pic) to some kinda salty strange looking color, but still yummy!

Ang Ku Kueh literally translates to ‘Red Tortoise Cake’. See the nice shell pattern?

For donkey years, since my grandfather’s time, it’s been just the yellow mung bean filling and bright red color dough in a large size. Suddenly there are more colors than the rainbow, fillings that are truly ‘adventurous’ and these cute mini ones I bought from a nearby bakery.

Red signifies good luck – it is super auspicious! (psst... this color will never be out of style for Ang Ku Kueh because ‘Ang’ means red).

I’ve not met anyone who says they don’t like this, well except for one of my ex-colleagues from UK who thought it was a raw, bloody kidney or something, and exclaimed, “Oh My God!” prior to briskly charging out of the office pantry!

I really felt bad for scaring the daylights outta him – never thrust a fresh, bright red, shiny Ang Ku Kueh to a newbie’s face without warning. The other three British gentlemen happily started eating them and loved it!

I ate the one meant for the marathon runner. I got him a scone the next day.

p/s: Read about my complaint on another sweet delight - click on 'Mooncake Mania'.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sit back, Smile and Burp

So I’m recovering from this really wicked cold (just sneezing was painful!) and am thinking where & from whom did i catch this &*#@! flu?

On the MRT*, at the supermarket or maybe the food court? How about that lady at the bus stop sneezing like a noisy vacuum cleaner?

Funny how a sick person has so much time on their hands that these silly nothing-better-to-do thoughts just flood my mind. Maybe it’s the Panadol or cough mixture... or the combo of both... or could it be the lack of ‘REAL’ food? You know, dishes that make you sit up when it arrives at the table.

Hmmm... ‘REAL’ food? What exactly is this? Mum’s cooking? Fried stuff? Lots of meat? Lots of meat with spicy flavors? Laksa? Barbeque?

One of my uncles once exclaimed to me, “This is not Real food!” as he was grudgingly eating and limply holding a fast food burger. It just didn’t have his all-important real food ingredient – Rice.

Steak, potatoes and lots of gravy were the ‘Real-est’ food of my former boss... never mind that he doesn’t touch the veggies at all.

Oh and let’s not forget people who swear that anything is ‘Real’ as long as it has burning-hot tongue-numbing chillies in it! (you can taste with numb tastebuds?).

On the other hand, some scoff at heavily spiced dishes like hot curries; it ‘interferes’ with the natural Real taste of the main ingredients, they insist! Rightly so?

ah yes,... Real food... the kind that makes you sit back, smile and burp satisfyingly. Billions eat it and my goodness, they Love it!

So now tell me, what is Real Food to YOU?

*MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) – Singapore’s subway train network.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Whoosh... Pop!

Sometimes things happen All of a Sudden!

One year, in the small office I worked in, eight pregnant ladies, in different departments, were in various stages of mother-to-be.

I kept ‘bumping’ into them all day. I call it a ‘Starbucks Pregnancy’ – there’s one round every corner.

While one was giving birth, another would be throwing up and a third was on medical leave due to ‘discomfort’. I felt as if I had given birth, thrown up and received no comfort. Till today, after ‘going through’ all those pregnancies it was like I’d given birth to eight kids all at one go! whoosh... Pop! x 8

... and that’s the intro for today’s dish – ‘Prawn Fritters'! Some of you may know it as ‘Battered Prawns’ – which is prawns dipped in batter and deep-fried, not prawns that are whacked (as I first thought!).

It’s gonna be fun – they Puff up All of a Sudden! whoosh... Pop!

(Another deep-fried delight is Fried Wontons at my 'Krackle Krispy Ka-Runch!' post, which includes my two demo videos showing you how to fold the wrappers - yes, it's me!)

p/s: If you prefer fish instead of prawns, try my Sweet & Sour Fish at 'Something Sweet, Something Sour - that's Dinner... and Life!' post

Prawn Fritters

20-30 large prawns
450 ml water (room temp)
Oil for deep-frying

300 g plain flour
75 g cornstarch
¾ tsp salt (see below*)
⅓ tsp white pepper
4 tsp baking powder

Remove the heads & shells of the prawns, leaving the tails intact. Devein.

Lightly sprinkle some salt on the prawns. Mix. Set aside.

Dry the tails well with paper towels (have someone help you do this while you prepare the batter).

Using a large wooden spoon, mix all the dry ingredients.

Stir in half of the water. Mix well. Pour the other half in and mix thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fryer (see below**).

Place the batter & prawns nearer to the wok/ fryer. You will also need a ladle or large spoon.

Hold each prawn by the tail.

Dip the rest of it into the batter and use the ladle to scoop up extra batter with the prawn.

Gently pour the batter & prawn into the oil, tails last.

Fry till golden brown on both sides.

Drain on paper towels. Enjoy!

* Test the seasoning: Fry a bit of batter till golden brown. Let cool & eat it. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

** Test the oil temp: Drop a teaspoon of batter into the oil.
If it gently rises to the top and bubbles, it’s ready. If it sizzles & browns fast, it’s too hot.