Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Rice

Sweet And Sour Chicken Rice
It is the last day of the 2012, a wonderful year and time to ring in the new. We have always made it a point to eat together and go to church for the midnight service and come back and toast the New Year with fruit cake and wine. This year, the special dish of the evening is Sweet and Sour Chicken Rice, a one pot meal and a great way to end the year.

The Recipe:
2 cups cooked basmathi rice, prepare and keep earlier; oil for frying; 1 cup vermicelli, deep fried , drained and kept ready for use.. 
500 gms boneless chicken, cubed and marinated for 20 minutes in salt and pepper; 1 tbsp rice wine or sherry; 2 tbsp cornflour; 1 tbsp sesame seed oil.
For the sauce: Mix together 225 ml water; 40 ml white vinegar; 180 ml tomato ketchup; 60 ml tomato chilli sauce; 125 ml brown sugar (more or less according to your taste); 60 ml light soy sauce; 20 ml sesame seed oil; 60 ml Worchestershire sauce; and 4 tbsp cornflour. Keep aside.
1 carrot sliced into thick rounds; a few cabbage leaves; 1 large onion quartered and taken apart in layers; 1 tbsp ginger garlic, minced; oil for frying.
Deep fry the chicken in smoking hot oil until golden brown all over. Drain and keep warm.
Heat a wok and add 2 tbsp oil. Stir fry the ginger garlic till fragrant. Add the carrots and stir fry for 2 minutes. Throw in the onions and cabbage leaves and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and pour in the mixed sauce, lower flame to medium heat and keep stirring till it bubbles. Remove from flame. Now arrange rice and vermicelli in serving dish in layers reserving some vermicelli for the top. Pour the sauce over and serve immediately with love and a grateful heart.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Twelfth Recipe For Christmas

Steamboat- The Pièce de résistance

Recipe No 12: 
Chinese Food is a great favourite for family celebrations and festivals because although it takes a while to prepare, the result is always a healthy, delicious option that leaves one feeling satisfied and smug at having pulled off another culinary feat. The Steamboat is the best option for special occasions as the ingredientsc can be prepared the day before and the guests have fun choosing their food at the table, cooking it themselves and eating it immediately. The Steamboat is a unique experience and more so when it is for the first time. This tantalising Chinese meal, with an array of ingredients and flavours remains a firm favourite to this day.
2 litre Stock: This is the basic requirement and you can make it any which way you like- from scratch or with soup cubes and other seasoning like I did. Some celery, minced ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic, a few slices tomato, chilli flakes, 2 chicken soup cubes, some sliced carrots and thick stems of any greens. Bring to the boil on the gas stove and then transfer to the Steamboat as you will save a lot of time.
Dipping Sauces:  Soy Sauce :Slice Chillies and soak overnight in a mixture of light soy sauce and vinegar to taste;
Red Chilli Sauce : Blend to a rough consistency 5 red, dried chillies, a small piece of ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp sesame seed oil and salt to taste. Personally we don’t feel the need for dipping sauces as the Steamboat on its own is absolutely delicious.
100gms Plain Noodles; 100 gms Glass Noodles; 200gms Sliced Chicken Breast ;200gms Boneless Fish Fillet, cut into four pieces; Beef Fillet (Optional), sliced ; 20 Prawns, deveined, tails intact; 50 gms Corn Kernels; Carrots Sliced; 50gms Cabbage ,Shredded; A Bunch Of Greens, wahed and cut into 1” pieces; Soft Bean Curd, sliced ; 2 Bean Curd Sheets (If Available), broken; Fried Bean Curd Puffs- soak in hot water to remove excess oil and drain before using .
And Of Course the all Important Steam Boat. I used an electric One, but there are other options.
Marinade For Seafood: 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp cornflour; salt & pepper to taste; 1 tbsp red wine or sherry. If you don’t have red wine use apple cider vinegar. When marinading prawns add 1 tsp brown sugar. Marinade overnight.
Marinade For Meats: 1 tsp sesame oil; 1 tbsp cornflour; 1 tbsp rice wine- optional (can use apple cider vinegar); salt & pepper to taste. Marinade overnight.
Place the Steamboat in the middle of the table and arrange all the other ingredients around it. Keep your spoons, forks, strainers, tongs and ladles at the ready. Switch on the Steamboat and once the stock starts simmering, start adding the ingredients of your choice to the stock, dish it out and start eating your gourmet meal. Keep replenishing the stock as required. (I keep a kettle of water simmering on the gas stove). Dip the food in the sauces if you like. This is a fantastic way to break the ice and by the time the feast is over, everyone is friends for life. I remember the first time I had Steamboat and it made a lasting impression on me.
Wishing everyone a Joyous Christmas and may you be blessed with peace, health and happiness always.

The Eleventh Recipe For Christmas

                                                         Recipe No 11: Fruit Punch
Fruit Punch is a great starter and breaks the ice especially when the guests experiment with various flavours and come up with something new every time.
1 litre Apricot Nectar; 1 litre Apple Juice; 1 litre Orange Juice; 1 litre Grapefruit Juice; 1 litre Peach Juice; ¼ cup each red and green cherries, chopped; ¼ cup tuitti fruiti; orange segments and finely minced apple; ice cubes and mint leaves.
Mix all ingredients together and serve with love.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Tenth Recipe For Christmas

Orange Christmas Tarts

This has to be the easiest recipe ever and most suitable for large parties. It can be made in a jiffy, tastes good and serves 50 (provided every guest has just one).
Recipe No 10: Orange Yoghurt Tarts
50 ready made tart cases; 250 gms cream cheese; ¼ cup thick curds; zest of ½ an orange; 2 tbsp fresh orange juice; ¼ cup sugar; a few candied papaya pieces or candied fruit of your choice.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and curds until smooth. Gently fold in the zest and orange juice. Drop 1 tsp into each tart case. Place a piece of candied fruit in the centre of each tart. Refrigerate and serve when guests are ready for their dessert.A guaranteed hit with everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Ninth Recipe For Christmas

Apricot Siena Cake
This is a chewy, sticky combination of bread and cake. It smells heavenly and tastes divine.  It is said to have originated in Siena, Italy and is also known as Panforte. My first attempt at making it was a total disaster. That was years ago. With a little bit of improvising I managed to get an eatable cake, this year.

Recipe No 9:  Siena Cake
100  gms nuts; 100gms candied pineapple, chopped; 100 gms dried Apricots, chopped; 50 gms candied orange peel; 2/3 cups flour; 2 level tbsp dark cocoa powder; 1 tsp mixed spice; 50 gms dark Cadbury’s chocolate; 1/3 cup sugar; ½ cup honey: 2 tbsp icing sugar to dredge cake with once done.
Mix the nuts, pineapple, apricots candied peel, cocoa and flour together in a deep mixing bowl. Heat the sugar and honey together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and it begins to boil. Lower flame and simmer 5 minutes. Add the dark chocolate and stir until it has completely melted. Cool 5 minutes and pour over the mixture in the bowl. Mix well. Pour into round 9" pan, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake in preheated oven at 150 C for 35 minutes or till done (when skewer inserted in centre comes out clean). Cool, cut into wedges and roll in powdered sugar. This cake can be stored for months (unless it’s eaten up by appreciative family members and others). Slice into wedges and dredge with icing sugar. To store, wrap in plastic paper or foil when completely cool and keep in a dry place.

The Eighth Recipe For Christmas

                                                          Addictive Nuts
Who does not love to munch on cashew nuts.? It is a favourite with all ages and especially at Christmas when one does not need an excuse to indulge. In our house there is always a tussle between those with sweet tooths and those without. Try both these quick to ,make nuts and store them in your memory of addictive flavours.

Recipe No 8:  Christmas Munchies

Pepper Chilli Nuts For The Have Nots
1/2 kg cashewnuts; 1 tbsp olive oil; ½ tsp salt; ¼ tsp pepper; ¼ tsp chilli powder; ¼ tsp jeera powder
Heat the olive oil and stir fry cashewnuts on a medium flame until evenly brown. Drain on kitchen paper and add salt, pepper, chilli and jeera powders. Adjust to taste. Cool completely and store in air tight containers.Supposed to last for a month but will get over much earlier.
Honey Coated Crispy Nuts For The Sweet Tooths  This is a Chinese favourite and I fell victim to it when I had it for the first time 17 years ago.
1 cup almonds; 1 cup cashew nuts; 1 tsp white sesame seeds,toasted
Line a tray with baking paper and spread 1 cup each of almonds and cashew nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degree C for 12-15 minutes, stirring once or twice in between. Remove from baking sheet and cool. Heat a pan, add 1 ½ tbsp olive oil, 3 tbsp of water, 3 tbsp sugar and 3 tbsp honey. Stir until the mixture begins to bubble.
Simmer 2 minutes. Add 2 tbsp sugar, ½ tsp mixed spices, 1/2 tsp salt and mix well. Add the nuts and sesame seeds and cook for 3-4 minutes or till the liquid is completely absorbed and the nuts shiny. Turn off heat. Transfer to the baking sheet, cool and separate the nuts with a fork. Store in an air tight container. Serve as a starter or as an in between snack.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Seventh Recipe For Christmas

                                                           Apricot Fruit Cake 

Dried apricots have always been a tradition in our household for Christmas and I always have something with apricots every Christmas. This year, I experimented with various fruitcakes and used Dried Apricot Puree instead of burnt sugar. The result…enticing and a rich aroma pervades our house.

Recipe No 7: Christmas Fruit Cake

200 gms each of flour, sugar, tuitti fruitti, black currants, sultanas, cherries and preserved pumpkin and nuts; 5 eggs, 250 gms butter, 1 tsp. mixed spice powder, 50 gms candied peel, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp vanilla; 2 tbsp whiskey (optional); ½ cup dried apricot puree Dec 
Chop fruits. Sieve flour and baking powder into large bowl. Add rest of the ingredients and stir till smooth and glossy. Bake at 150 C  for 45 minutes or till skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.

The Sixth Recipe For Christmas

                                             Incredible Sooji (Eurasian) Cake
When I first came to Malaysia I used to wonder why everyone I met raved about the sooji cake. Popular amongst the Eurasian community, every family guarded their recipes fiercely. I had the opportunity to eat a slice at a friend’s house and experimented and came up with my own. Once I had mastered it, I realised it was one of the best cakes ever. Dark yellow, moist , rich and buttery, full of almonds and made with butter and egg yolks, this is a cake fit for a king.

Recipe No 6:  Sooji Almond Cake

175 gms butter, 125 gms caster sugar; 125 gms sooji; 30 gms flour; 
50 gms crystallized melon, chopped; 11/2 tsp candied orange peel, chopped; 60 gms almond nibs; 7 egg yolks; 1/4 tsp mixed spice; 1 tsp vanilla essence; 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp brandy.

 Mix together sooji, maida, chopped crystallised melon, candied peel and mixed spices.
Beat yolks with half the sugar till light and fluffy. Cream butter with the rest of the sugar together with vanilla essence. Gently fold in the creamed yolk mixture. Add the mixed dry ingredients and brandy. Mix well. Pour into lined and greased 9 inch cake tin. Bake in preheated oven at 175º C for one hour till golden brown or when skewer inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.
Cool, cut and serve.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Fifth Recipe For Christmas

 Christmas Macaroons
I am always on the prowl for Macaroon Recipes which are absolutely a must for Christmas in our family. This year I made two kinds -  Walnut Macaroons with brown sugar and Coffee Macaroons with cashew nuts, which I know will go down well with the coffee addicts in our family. The Walnut Macaroons are nearly over and the Coffee Macaroons are hidden away.

Walnut Macaroons: 500 gms brown sugar, powdered in mixer with 18 cardamoms (seeds only); 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts; white of 2 medium sized eggs.
Mix the the sugar and nuts together. Add the egg white very slowly until the mixture becomes a dough like mass. Discard remaining egg white. Make into balls and bake 2 inches apart in preheated oven at 175C for 10 minutes or until puffed out and transluscent. Makes 50.

Coffee Macaroons: 500 gms coarse sugar, powdered in mixer with 18 cardamoms (seeds only); 1 ½ cups chopped cashewnuts; white of 2 medium sized eggs; 2 tsp Nescafe dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water.
Mix the the sugar and nuts together. Add thenescafe and mix well. Next add the egg white very slowly until the mixture becomes a dough like mass. Discard remaining egg white. Make into balls and bake 2 inches apart in preheated oven at 175 C for 10 minutes or until puffed out and translucent. Makes 50.

The Fourth Recipe For Christmas

Home Made Ginger Liqueur
Making wines and liqueurs have always been part of our family tradition and I enjoy trying out various recipes and giving it away as gifts to family and friends during Christmas.  This is one I tried years ago very successfully.  Those who like it sweet may increase the sugar and the earlier you make it the smoother it is.
Recipe No 4: Ginger Liqueur
¼ cup grated ginger
750ml vodka (usually one bottle)
1/3 cup filtered water
½ cup white sugar
Grate the ginger and place it in a 2 litre glass container. Add the vodka to the container. Let the container sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks. Strain out the ginger. I did not do this as I like to have the grated ginger in the liqueur for extra flavour.
Then mixthe water and sugar in pan on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the sugar water to the glass container, close the lid tightly and give it a shake. Keep in a cool, dark place for at least two more weeks. The longer you leave it, the smoother it gets. Store in a cool place. (I made mine last year). Serve with Ginger Scrumbtious Cake.
I also used it to make my fruit cakes this year.

The Third Recipe For Christmas

Simply Scrumbtious Cake
I tried this out years ago one day when I had run out of flour and had only bread crumbs at home. It turned out great and was a hit with everyone. Make it yourself and surprise your friends and family. You can use nuts or any chopped fruit. I used ginger because I love preserved ginger.

Recipe No 3: Ginger Breadcrumb Cake

3 medium eggs; 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs; 1 cup crystalised ginger, chopped; 3/4 cup sugar.
Cream yolks of eggs and sugar till pale and thick. Add crumbs and ginger.Mix to combine.   Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake at 175 C for 35 minutes or until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.  Cool and slice. Serve with Ginger Liqueur. This cake does not keep well, so finish it quickly.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Second Recipe For Christmas

Mixed Fruit Relish (Buah Buah Acar)
This is a traditional Malaysian recipe and a must for Christmas especially with all the rich food around. It goes well with any kind of cuisine, is sweet tangy and hot and tastes good by itself too. It’s a knock out with any kind of rice and can be made in many different ways. Try out my version and and get addicted to it, like me.

Recipe No 2:  Buah Buah Acar
½ kg mixed fruits (I used pineapple, prunes, cranberries, mango, papaya, cranberries and strips of candied ginger); 4 dried red chillies soaked in 1/8 cup water; 1 tsp chilli powder; ½ cup white vinegar; 1 large onion, chopped; 1 large piece ginger, chopped; 12 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped; 1 star anise; 1 inch piece cinnamon; 4 cloves; salt & sugar to taste; ¼ cup olive oil for frying; 2 cups water.

Grind the onion, soaked chillies with the water, ginger, garlic, spices and chilli powder to a smooth paste. De seed all the fruit and chop into bite sized pieces. Pour the oil into a large pan and heat to smoking point. Lower flame and add the ground mixture stirring all the while and stir fry till thick and oil oozes out. Add the fruits, water, vinegar, salt & sugar and cook till mixture is thick. Cool, bottle and serve during Christmas get togethers.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The First Recipe For Christmas

Candied Orange Peel

December has always been my favourite month. Growing up in Bangalore we were exposed to a myriad of exciting things to do- carol singing, concerts, presents and of course the excitement of hovering in the kitchen on the pretext of helping our mum, and sampling all the goodies we could. Christmas is a wonderful season of bonhomie and goodwill. It was the time we shared our goodies with all the community and enjoyed different kinds of cakes, sweets & savouries. My favourite Christmas activity has always been singing and one of my favourite songs “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”. Back then we did not really know what it meant, but we mastered the song and entertained many an audience until we left Bangalore for Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia. This year I wish to share 12 recipes for the Twelve Days of Christmas. Have fun, enjoy yourself and may you be doubly blessed.

Recipe No 1: Candied Peel
Christmas Cake is a must for this season and there are numerous recipes for it. Every family has their own tried and trusted recipe and so do I.   Candied peel is an absolute must for the traditional Christmas Fruit Cake and I have been making my own for ages.   My Mum & Dad always had bottles of delicious brandied fruits in their kitchen cupboard which we kids would dip into whenever we fancied  ( unknown to them).

Rind of 4 oranges, neatly quartered.
1 cup sugar, 3 tbsp rum or whisky

Place orange rind in a heavy bottomed pan and pour in just enough water to cover it. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until soft. Stir in the sugar and bring to the boil again. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool , cover and keep overnight. Next day boil again and simmer for 5 minutes. Repeat the third day. By this time most of the water would have evaporated and the orange peel will be dark and the syrup thick and aromatic. Completely cool and bottle. Pour the rum or whisky on top. Store indefinitely until required.
NB: This can be made earlier and stored. I usually make mine in January during the orange season.