Chewy (not crunchy) fruit coconut bars

Chewy Fruit-Coconut Bars

This is a quick bake (I managed to bake this up in between reviews for montecristo cigars and managing two kids before lunch time!) and excellent for breakfast or as a snack. It makes use of just about whatever dry ingredients you have in your pantry – if you’re me, that is. You can add other types of fruits like dried bananas, mangoes, peaches, prunes, blueberry or add in nuts like cashew, pine, walnut, peanut, sunflower seeds and even things like chocolate chips and rice bubbles! Some recipes call for the use of golden syrup or peanut butter in place of honey but I prefer this version – easier to handle and not all that sweet, really.

Note though – I have to firmly pack the mix in once I add in the syrup. While my slab turned out okay, it was a little crumbly in some parts so I chuck it in the fridge to harden it a little after cutting it into bars. For my next try, I’ll have to use the baking paper, fold it over and press down HARD. Am also going to try it out with other types of fruits, nuts and cereals.

UPDATE: Initially, I thought it would turn out crunchy due to the addition of cornflakes but no, after cooling and hardening, these bars became quite chewy and thus, the change in name!

CrunchyChewy fruit coconut bars

Ingredients

1.5 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup dried apricots – cubed
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sultanas
1/4 cup glazed fruit – I used strawberry
1/4 cup almond slice
125 gms butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a pan of your choice by lining it with baking paper.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and place aside.
  3. Place the sugar, butter and honey in a pan and cook on medium heat until the butter and sugar has dissolved. Bring the syrup to a boil and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until it has thickened a little.
  4. Pour the syrup over the mixture and mix well. Once well-combined, pour into the baking pan and spread it out evenly before pressing down firmly. The mix needs to be packed in well and compactly or else they’ll fall apart when you cut the slab into bars.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cut the slab into bars when the mix is cool – to speed up the process, place in the refrigerator for about 30 mins to an hour before cutting. Keep in airtight containers in the fridge or freeze.
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Flaked almond cookies

Flaked almond cookies

In search of an afternoon activity for Eva considering the rainy afternoon & days, I decided to make some Christmas cookies with the almonds I have in the pantry. Turned out to be a really fun activity for her and it ate up our entire afternoon – nearly two hours! YAY!

As for the recipe, I made some changes. I used orange juice instead of water and cut back on the sugar – I am certain that if I hadn’t, these cookies would be ultra sweet! I also made the cookies in such a way that the flaked almonds were layered in the cookies instead of just sprinkled over the top. Turned out to be pretty delicious and a keeper!

Flaked almond cookies

Ingredients

175 gms unsalted butter, diced
225 gms self-raising flour
100 gms cane/brown sugar
1 egg, separated
2 tbsp orange juice
50 gms flaked almonds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Rub the butter into the flour until they resemble breadcrumbs and stir in the sugar before adding in the egg yolk and juice to form a firm dough.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1 cm thick and sprinkle over the almonds. Fold twice and roll again until the dough is approx 5mm thick.
  3. Cut the dough into desired shapes and place on an ungreased baking tray. Continue to do the same until there is no more dough left. Whisk the egg white lightly and brush over the cookies.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove immediately and leave on a wire rack to cool & harden. The cookies will be soften at first but will harden as they cool.
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Nachos The Grousson Style

Nachos The Grousson Style

I ran out of ideas on what to make for dinner and decided to use the tortilla chips my parents bought – they would be heading back soon and I didn’t want to have any chips lying around (bad for Eva)! My parents wanted something light and since Noah has been fussy of lately, I wanted something that I could prepare earlier and put together quickly when necessary. Plus me turning into a panda and complex recipes equals a disaster!

So I ran out and bought some avocados as well as mince beef and bell peppers. Ended up with some pretty interesting nachos and really fabulous guacamole! Do note that with nachos, it’s best to use cheese that melts like mozzarella topped off with a strong flavoured cheese like cheddar or Gruyère. They didn’t have any of these so I settled for Emmental. Not the best of choices but it makes for a decent meal. Also, feel free to pile your nachos high up with plenty of layers of chips and mince as well as cheese. Do feel free to substitute beef with chicken, turkey or even pork and don’t worry – you can use different cuts of meat and not just mince!

Nachos The Grousson Style

Ingredients
Tortilla chips (unsalted)
1 Red & 1 yellow bell pepper – chopped and sliced (size is up to you)
1 cup fresh button mushrooms – chopped roughly
500 gms minced beef
1 medium sized onion – diced finely
A handful of smoked pork belly
Grated cheese – mozzarella & cheddar is preferred
1 stock cube

Method

  1. Line the tortilla chips in a pan or ovenproof dish of your choice and place aside.
  2. In a pan, add some oil before tossing in the onions and smoked pork belly. Fry until fragrant before adding in the peppers, mushroom, beef and the stock cube. Fry until the beef is cooked and the mushroom is soft.
  3. Once ready, spread the meat mix over the chips before topping off with some grated cheese. Bake under the grill under the cheese is golden brown. Serve with some guacamole and sour cream.
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Buttery Sweet Corn Apam Balik

Buttery Sweet Corn Apam Balik

My first attempt at making this had resulted in a pretty thick pancake-like layer which wasn’t really what I was looking for at all even though taste-wise, it was decent. Plus I had to substitute alkaline water with all sorts of things – in the end, I decided that it was just best that I stick to regular Western-styled pancakes.

But when Lily from Wai Sek Hong came up with her third experiment on the ever humble ban jian kueh, I thought why not I have a go at the recipe as well since not many people had tried it and I’m sure she would have appreciated the feedback. Instead of peanuts or any nut (which I ran out after making those muar chees), I decided to sub with sweet corn much to Nil’s disapproval.

The overall result was a much thinner layer with the characteristic honeycomb texture, fluffy and soft to boot. Am not too sure if it being chewy is desirable but I kind of like it this way. Perfect for me really!

Anyway, do hop on over to the link posted above for a go at her recipe.

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Curry puffs with chicken & potatoes

Curry puff with chicken & potatoes

The other day, Nil cubed too much chicken breast for the fried rice that I made for lunch, so instead of tossing everything into the fried rice, I thought we’d keep aside some and turn those into some curry puffs – a snack which I’ve not had for over a year already. There are many ways of making this – one can just use potatoes as a filling, some prefer meat like chicken, and then there is the matter of making the pastry – spiral, regular or flaky.

The options endless, but one thing is for sure. Unlike the Western counterpart – pastry with curry – the Asian curry puff is not just filled with tumeric but it has a spicy, hot kick to it which is offset by the buttery texture of the pastry. Topped off with the fact that it’s deep-fried and not baked, this roadside snack can be decadent and sinful.

Still, it is a regular at many hawker stalls, food centers, as well as in many homes plus ethnic cuisines throughout Malaysia. The Indians, Malays, and Chinese have their own way of making curry puffs…you could say that it’s one of those dishes that has been embraced by all, claimed by none.

I made these with some chicken curry and beef rendang powder that I got from home (which you can get at any Asian store) and the pastry is a simply one that Nil and I use for tarts. Nothing fancy or complicated really. I didn’t have those fancy curry puff moulds that you’d get back at home in Malaysia – just my trusty pizza cutter (to divide my dough), and a rolling pin. The fluted edges are done by simply pinching the edges and folding them in as you go.

Taste-wise, Nil loves it! It reminds him of the dish he always took whenever he patronised Indian food stalls/restaurants back in Singapore. As for me, a thinner pastry is always best (I was afraid of holes and such) but it’ll do. This recipe is a bit on the not-so-salty side because I’m trying to watch my salt intake but if you like your food more salty, don’t forget to add salt to the flour before churning out the dough!

Curry puffs with chicken & potatoes

Ingredients

(A) Pastry
400 gms all purpose white flour
150 gms butter
Some iced water
Flour for dusting

(B) Filling
200 gms chicken breast – cubed
4 medium-large potatoes – peeled and cubed
1 large onion – diced
1 tbsp curry chicken powder
1 tbsp beef rendang powder
1 tsp chicken stock
50 ml water
Salt & pepper to taste
Oil for deep frying

Method

  1. Mix the spices with some water until it forms a paste. In a wok/pan, fry the paste with some oil until fragrant. Add in the potatoes and onions, and fry for 2-3 minutes before adding in the cubed chicken. Fry until the chicken is cooked.
  2. Add in the water, chicken stock, salt & pepper to taste, cover and cook until the potatoes are soft. You may need to add more water if necessary – keep an eye out. You don’t want your filling to burn before the potatoes are soft.
  3. Once the potatoes are cooked, continue frying the filling until it’s dry. Be careful not to burn it. When ready, dish out to cool thoroughly.
  4. Prepare the pastry by mixing (A). On a floured surface, divide the dough into equal portions and roll out the portions into circles measuring 12 cm in diameter and a thickness of about 2mm. You don’t have to be this accurate – this is just a gauge. Place about a teaspoon or more (estimate as you go) of the filling, fold carefully, pinch the edges to seal and create a flute edge by folding in the edges.
  5. When finished, deep fry these in hot oil until golden brown. Serve warm as is.

NOTE: You can actually keep the extras in the freezer for a month – just deep fry the puffs (after you’re done filling and sealing them) for one minute or so (the curry puffs won’t be golden brown which is okay), dish out, cool and freeze. When you want to eat them, just take out from the freeze and deep fry them directly (do not thaw) until golden brown

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Chinese crullers and such

Chinese crullers & Ham Cheem Peng

First up, don’t let the size of the plate deceive you. These Chinese crullers and ham cheem peng (Chinese crullers with five spice powder in it) are mini ones – about 10cm to 4cm in size (length or diameter). I like them smaller and such but the trouble with making them this small is that I had to not stretch the Chinese crullers or roll out the ham cheem peng which resulted in a slightly dense texture for some. BUT one saving grace is that they did puff up well so next time around, I’ll be stretching and rolling them out a little. Hehehe.

Second, I didn’t make these from scratch simply because I’ve been having problems looking for ingredients like alum and ammonium bicarbonate here. So I settled for the next best thing when I went to Lyon a couple of days back – a flour mix from Thailand. Yes, they have the same stuff there except that it’s called patongo! In case you’re wondering how it looks, you can check out a pic of the flour mix here. I didn’t use the entire box simply because it states that 500 gms makes 60 pieces and there was no way that I would be having 60 pieces of Chinese crullers for breakfast even if I wanted to! 🙂

This mix made my life much easier – honestly. All I did was add water and some oil together with the flour into my bread machine and about 1.5 hours later, the dough was ready to be cut and shaped into crullers for frying! Just a quick note though – you might want to dab the surface when you’re stacking one dough on top of the other instead of just sandwiching them together with a stick. Otherwise, you might just end up with two separate doughs instead of the regular Chinese crullers!

Anyway, I have half left and I’m planning on making some another day to go with some porridge (century egg porridge sounds super at the moment) and this time, instead of ham cheem peng, I’m going to try another favourite – crullers with glutinous rice! Now…I wonder if I can find the same thing here in Neuchatel. Hm.

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