Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Light & Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies


This is one of the best recipes for peanut butter cookies I have come across. It is superbly light, crunchy & richly tasty. The peanut-buttery aroma that wafted through the air while the cookies were being baked in the oven was enough to convince me that this recipe by Belinda Jeffery which I had gotten from 'delicious.' - an Australian food mag - is definitely a keeper. As the dough is really soft, it needs to be rolled into logs and refrigerated for a couple of hours prior to slicing and baking. This cookie will never fail to delight both the young & the old. With each crunchy bite, you'll definitely want to go for more. So, be sure to make enough to last for several days. Caution: if you have unexpected guests whom you dislike, do not offer these cookies or else, they might just return again!...Or, if you want to win someone over, go ahead and offer these cookies packed nicely in a pretty ribboned gift box ;-).


1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped raw unsalted peanuts, plus some for decoration

Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cream butter and all the sugar in a separate bowl till light and fluffy. Add peanut butter, combine. Then add egg and vanilla, combine. Add flour and gently mix. Add chopped peanuts. The dough will be very soft. Divide into 2 portion. Prepare 2 large baking paper and place each portion of the dough on each of the paper. Use your hands to shape the dough into approx 5 cm-thick log. Then roll up with the paper to enclose. Chill them in the fridge for 2-3 hrs or until firm. Preheat oven to 150 deg C, unwrap logs, slice into 6-7mm thick rounds. Place cookies 3 cm apart on trays lined with baking paper. Press extra nuts onto each cookie and bake between 20-25 mins or till brown.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Stir-Fry 'Sea Asparagus' & A Week Of Deprived Connectivity!

I lived through the whole of last week without a computer & the Internet. And what made it worse was that I wasn't on any extended holiday after my HK trip! Long story short...I had to make an unplanned trip to Kuala Lumpur to attend to some personal matters. I think I've read more copies of Reader's Digest in the last 1 week (to fill up the rest of my free time there) than I've ever did in my lifetime! It got me imagining living a life reversed back to the days of pre-Internet!! I wondered if the Internet did not exist in the first place, what would I be doing right now. I realized I'm unable to immediately think of an answer given how pervasive the Internet has permeated my life. I found myself missing my blog, my blog friends & their blogs, my Facebook, my email accounts, Google, Wikipedia and the whole universe of the online system! good it feels to be back at home & online!

Anyway, below is a really simple dish I cooked prior to my travel last week which I had no time to post it then. I've been keeping a can of imported Chilean sea asparagus (the seafood variety) in my pantry for the longest time and I was figuring out how & what to cook it with. So, I decided to prepare a simple, slightly spicy stir-fry with a variety of veggies. First of all, don't be confused by the name on the can if you happen to see it in the supermarkets (sorry, I've forgotten to take a picture of the can with its label). Although it was written 'sea asparagus' on the can label, it is not the plant variety which grows abundantly along salt marshes, beaches and mangroves. It is in fact, a variety of razor clams. In Malaysia, it is known as 'bamboo clams', and in Spanish, 'concha navaja' (watch this video to see a swimming clam). If you have not eaten it before, it has a mild & delicately chewy texture, and is delicious whether steamed with sauces or stir-fried. These clams live on the sandy seabed and they camouflage themselves against being preyed upon by digging & hiding in the sand. The best time to 'collect' these clams are during low tide season.


Here's the recipe:

Blend to a paste:
3 fresh chillies
4 shallots
2 pips garlic
2 candlenuts

1 can seafood 'sea asparagus'/razor clams
2 stalks celery
1 carrot
Snow pea
Cauliflower florets
2-3 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste

Heat the cooking oil in a wok/pan and saute the blended paste till fragrant. Mix in the clams and stir fry under high heat for about 40 seconds. Add in all the vegetables, salt to taste and stir fry for 3 minutes. Cover with a lid for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and serve with rice.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Thai Affair...

Kai Haw Bai Toey
or Fried Chicken in Screwpine Leaf has always been huge on my order list whenever I eat out at a Thai restaurant. So for dinner just now, I made some to go with Thai-style pineapple fried rice, another one of my favorite Thai recipes. To wash down the palate, I also boiled some Chinese-style Lotus Roots with Pork Ribs Soup in a clay pot by simmering it on low fire for slightly more than an hour. Everything smelled so good (esp the fried chicken) and looked perfect!...till of course, my Hub came home, saw the dinner on the table and asked "No Thai green curry???"! ......*&^%$*%#@ SMACKKK!!!!

Anyway, he did compliment me later on and said that dinner was fabulous. And so, he was spared from doing the dishes (this time)!

Kai Haw Bai Toey or Fried Chicken in Screwpine Leaf


Finely ground paste:
4 cloves garlic
4 shallots
1 stalk lemon grass
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp chillie powder

500 g chicken, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
Light pinch of salt
1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
Screwpine leaves (use 1 leaf to wrap 1 piece of chicken)
2 cups cooking oil for frying

- Mix the chicken with the finely ground paste. Add sugar, sesame oil, fish sauce, dark soy sauce & marinate for 1 hour.
- Wrap each piece of chicken with 1 screwpine leave. Use a toothpick to secure both ends of the leaf if you want to.
- Deep fry for 10-12 minutes and drain.

Pineapple Fried Rice


(Serves 2)
1 big bowl of cooked rice
Quarter of a medium ripe pineapple (cored & diced)
2 tbsp cooking oil
6 shallots, sliced thinly
2 tbsp dried prawns (soaked in water for 5 mins and drained)
150 g diced chicken meat
1-2 Chinese sausages (lap cheong)
2 tbsp Nam Pla or fish sauce
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce

- Heat the cooking oil and saute the shallots until brown and crisp. Set aside. In the same oil, saute the dried prawns until fragrant, then add in the chicken and sausages and saute for 3-4 mins.
- Add the fish sauce, curry powder, sugar, soy sauce, pineapple and rice. Mix well and continue frying for another 3-4 mins. Serve hot and garnish with coriander leaves and cucumber.