A Quick And Easy Dish–Tuna Kiwi Salad

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INTRODUCTION

Today is Saturday and I have done my marketing earlier in the morning when my kids are sleeping and the crowds in the supermarket were lesser. I have just completed my marketing, cleaned my seafood and put back to the fridge and is time to issue my post today.

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Some of my close friends were asking me why am I having  a daily post.. Frankly speaking, I am tired of taking pictures, cooked, taking pictures again, compile, blog and publish. I do not have any worries about of what I am going to blog about as I have to cook at least one meal a day and there are many household recipes that I can blog. However, it is my intention to build up my readership number and my recipe database within a year.. That explained the reasons of my daily posting and  I will alternate between household savoury dishes and pastry items..I am sorry to take up your time to hear an old “grumbling”……

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Putting that aside, today I am going to share a very simple salad recipe that I have prepared yesterday. It should be one of the healthiest cuisines that I have blogged about as the fats involved is minimal and the ingredients are packed with proteins, vitamins and minerals. This is my own creation and I do not have recipe for you to refer. It is really a refreshing alternative after a few post of meat dishes such as Dongpo Meat and Chinese Barbecue Pork.

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I have named this salad as “TUNA KIWI SALAD” though the major ingredients were tomatoes. I will also share a number of presentations that you can consider how to serve this delicious salad.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 6-8 persons

As it is a salad, therefore, I am rather reluctant to give an exact quantity. The quantity and types of ingredients are for reference only.

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Must haves

  • 3-4 large tomatoes

  • 1 small canned tuna (either in oil, with brine or with mayonnaise)

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (if canned tuna is in brine is used)

  • 2 kiwi fruits de-skinned and cut into small cubes.

  • Pinches of salt

  • Some shredded cheddar cheeses

Optional and substitutable

  • Pinches of black pepper

  • Some chopped coriander leaves or basil or Italian herbs preferred

  • 2 boiled eggs – cut into small pieces

  • Some pine nuts (not in picture)

  • Some cherry tomatoes (not in picture)

  • Some Chinese lettuces

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Cut the tomatoes into half. Use a spoon to take away the centre. Chop the centre into small pieces. You can either keep the seeds or throw away the seeds depending on how moist is your overall salad. However, it is advisable to throw away the seeds and juices but keep the centre. This illustration included the seeds and hence the salad was a bit moist.

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  • Cut the kiwi, boiled eggs, tomatoes and tuna into small pieces or chunks.

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  • Put all in a big mixing bowl. Add either chopped coriander leaves or dry Italian herbs, black pepper, pinches of salt and shredded cheddar cheeses. Stir until well mixed. Note: You have to be careful about the addition of pinches of salt.

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If your tuna is soaked in brine when you purchased it, there is no need to add salt but you may need to add in olive oil. If your tuna is soaked in oil when you purchased it, there is no need to add olive oil but you have to add it pinches of salt. If you prefer, you can add in some lemon juices.

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  • Scoop out the salad in the tomato cups or fresh lettuce leaves. Dust with additional cheeses or black pepper if desired.

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CONCLUSION

Personally, I liked this tuna salad very much. It is very healthy and easy to prepare. Try and see if you like the salad or not.

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Hope you like the post today and cheers.

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 For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s Facebook Page.

What I “Ate” Today (家常便饭系列)…. 17 August 2013- Special

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You may be surprised about this title! In fact, the title is not correct either. What I am going to post is not “what I cooked today” or “what I ate today”. It was a gathering at one of my relative’s house and she had cooked some Chinese dishes that are not common among Fujian or Guangdong Province.

My relative is from Jiangxi Province and therefore the food that she cooked were rather different! As you all know, Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese are descendants of immigrants mainly from the South Eastern Coastal Fujian and Guangdong Province.


JIANGXI CUISINES

Per Wikipedia:

Jiangxi (Chinese: 江西; pinyin: Jiāngxī; Wade–Giles: Chiang-hsi; Postal map spelling: Kiangsi, Gan: Kongsi) is a province in the People’s Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangxi)

As compared to Nanyang Chinese (Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese), in a household meal, they are more dishes but with a smaller portion. For us, we will usually serve 3 dishes and 1 soup, for them the dishes can be as many as 6-12 dishes. Today, the host is kind enough to cook us 7 dishes (excluding desserts and sweet soups). Jiangxi dishes were rather spicy (chilli hot) and as my kids were having meals with us, for some dishes, they have to prepare both the spicy and non spicy version.

Note than I am currently on a vegetarian  diet and since I did not told them in advance, I have taken my meals before joining them.  Therefore, I did not join them for meals.


SPICY AND SOUR SHREDDED POTATOES (酸辣土豆丝)

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Yes, this is my favourite. Potatoes were julienned into thin strips. There were then soaked in cold water until all the starch were gone. This will make the potatoes “crunchy” and water have to be changed regularly. Look at the thin strips, these were all manually done. They were then stir fried with spring onions, black vinegars and chilli. This is something that I have yet to share the cooking illustrations with readers but I can assure you it is something simple yet the taste is superb. Kids are fighting for this.


BRAISED BEEF (酱牛肉)

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I do not know if there is any translation of this dish. It is basically beef braised in dark soya sauce (and herbs and spices). It was then air dried. If it was kiln dried, it will become smoked beef. This is a form of meat preservation that can be commonly found in many parts of China. My relatives have prepared these meat in China and brought it over.

I still remembered  when I was stationed in Changchun, China about 10 years ago, one of the past time is to buy some braised chicken drumsticks and ate it in the hotel. It is delicious and thinking about it make me drooling. Depending on the regions, the preservations can be sugar based or salt based.


TOMATOES FRIED WITH EGGS (番茄炒蛋)

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A common household dish in China. Besides stir frying, another way of cooking this combination is making it into a soup.

Tomato is not a common vegetable in my  traditional house cooking. Tomatoes are considered vegetables imported from other countries (though this may not be true any more). This is evidenced in its Chinese name literately translated as Western Persimmon (西红柿)or Foreign brinjal (番茄)。In Hokkien dialects, it was called Caucasian Brinjal (angmokio)!  Therefore, my mom seldom cooked tomatoes in the house.

As my girl is a tomato fanatic, this will definitely her top choice. However, as my boy is tomato phobia, this is definitely a good dish to make my boy eating tomato.  Though he is a tomato phobia but he is an egg fanatic. I usually requested that if he wanted to eat 2 tablespoons of eggs, he will need to finish 1 tablespoon of tomatoes. Haha


STEAMED CHINESE SAUSAGE WITH CHINESE BLACK FERMENTED BEANS (腊肠蒸豆豉)

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The Chinese sausages were prepared by my relatives in China and brought it over. You can hardly find any fats in the Chinese sausages. Before I am on my vegetarian diet, I have tried the sausages before and it is delicious.

The Chinese sausages were cut into slices, steamed with Chinese black fermented beans and chopped garlics. May be after my vegetarian diets end, I shall cook this. Good thing about having this post is that it can remind me of what I should cooked when I run out of ideas.


PIGTAILS PORK BELLIES SOUP (猪尾猪肚汤)

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I never have this combination before, pork bellies plus pigtails. The reason is because both meats have different cooking times. You know pork bellies are rather difficult to cook until soft. So, it is not easy to cook this soup. Even if you used pressure cooker, both items will have to be cooked separately. There is no vegetables or white peppers. It is pure meat broth!

If you ask me whether it is yummy or not, of course, I can’t tell you directly because I did not taste it. However, from my years of cooking experience, I can tell you that it is a good soup because the soup had turn milky meaning all the gelatine from the meat have been dissolved in the soup/broth.

Don’t believe me, freeze it and you will see that it become jellish and you can use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Teochew dialect group also have a dish that after braising certain meat for a long time, they cut the meat into very small pieces, freeze the broth and become a jelly. The jelly was then cut into small pieces and served as cold dish (猪头粽)


STIR FRIED CHINESE WATER CRESS (清炒西洋菜)

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I remembered when I told my mother in law and wife to stir fry water cress previously, they are against it as they always used water cress to cook soup. It is generally true that most Chinese dialect groups like to boil soup with this vegetable. However, when I travelled to China, I always have stir fried water cress in restaurants. Usually, this vegetable were stir fried using garlic without any other ingredients.

Try and tell me whether it is nice or not! Remember that you have to stir fry the vegetables using high heat, otherwise, it may be bitter.


STEAMED KUDZU FLOUR COATED PORK WITH PUMPKIN (南瓜米粉肉)

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When I asked for the name of the dish, I was told  “namguamifenrou”. However, I can’t find any rice vermicelli or Beehoon. Later she explained the 米粉 is not rice vermicelli, it means “rice flour”. Though the name is called rice flour, the coating of the meat can be any types of flour. It can be corn flour, sweet potato flour, potato flour and etc.…But today the flour that she used is kudzu flour (葛根粉). Again this is brought from Jiangxi and she disclosed that this was made from wild kudzu roots.

Kudzu has many health benefits and among them are relief symptoms of postmenopausal women, reducing alcohol intake, alleviating cluster headaches, managed metabolic syndromes etc. etc. etc. In Singapore, we do have a type of Chinese instant flu medicine called Kudzu soup (葛根汤) that you consumed when you have a fever and it is believed that it will help to reduce your body temperature. You may want to know more about kudzu from here.

Coming back to the dish. Meat were seasoned and coated with kudzu flour. The meat was then placed on top of the pumpkins and steamed under high heat until the pumpkins were soft. The purpose of the flour is to retain the meat juiciness in the process of steaming. Any meat juices that escaped will dripped into the pumpkins those flavoured the pumpkins.

Lastly, I want to convey my sincere thanks to my relatives who cooked us a sumptuous meal and we really appreciate that.

Hope you like the post today and I find this post is meaningful to share with readers about other different types of Chinese cuisines.

Have a nice day and cheers.

What A Golf Ball Have To Do With A Pineapple? Well, It Is The Famous South East Asian Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥)

This post is updated  on 9th January 2014 with the inclusion of a VEGETARIAN RECIPE. This recipe is egg less, milk less and butter less. Please scroll down towards the end of the post for vegetarian recipe. Both recipes share the same steps of illustration.

Second updates on 20 July 2014 : New Picture Taking

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INTRODUCTION

I told myself, I must set aside my time to write this post. I have lost my recipe twice. Once, accidentally thrown away by my wife as she thought it is my kids recycle paper and in another incident, I have typed down in a notepad in my old computer but I just can’t locate it when I switched to my new computer. So this time, I told myself that I must publish in my blog so that I have multiple copies and if I lost it, maybe I can still get a copy from my readers ! Ha-ha

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PINEAPPLE TARTS DEFINED

As usual, I will give some standard definition of the food that I am going to post so as to give readers a better understanding on what they are going to prepare! As per Wikipedia:

“Pineapple tarts refer to small, bite-size pastries filled with or topped with pineapple jam found in different parts of Asia. In South East Asia exists one form of Pineapple tart.  The pastry consists of a large proportion of butter and egg yolk, besides using corn starch, giving it a rich, buttery, tender and melt-in-the-mouth texture. The pineapple jam is usually made by slowly reducing and caramelizing grated fresh pineapple that has been mixed with sugar and spices – usually cinnamon, star anise and cloves. Typical shapes include a flat, open tart topped with pineapple jam under a lattice of pastry, rolls filled with jam that are open at the ends and jam-filled spheres. Considered a “festive cookie”, pineapple tarts are usually consumed during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali periods in Singapore and Malaysia.[However, they are sold all year round by commercial bakeries and by souvenir stores serving tourists.” Source: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pineapple_tart)

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MAJOR TYPES OF PINEAPPLE TARTS

There are many types of pineapple tarts and the basic types are:

1) The golf ball types or enclosed version. It is also called melt in the mouth types of pineapple tarts. This shall be the recipe that I will share with readers today.

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2) The opened version whereby the pineapple jams sits on a flower like pastry.

Source : http://happyhomebaking.blogspot.sg

3) The half enclosed type or Nastar version whereby part of the jams were wrapped with two ends opened.It is also called pineapple rolls

Source: http://www.tastespotting.com


PREPARATION OF PINEAPPLE TARTS

Preparation of pineapple tarts will involve the following two main parts:

  • Preparation of pineapple jam – I will not cover this part in this post. I have made my pineapple jam before but as I did not capture the images here, therefore, I will not share with readers here. Instead, if you are interested to make your own pineapple jam, you can visit this blogger’s video http://.bigheadmagicmad.com on how he makes the pineapple jam. For this illustration, I have opted to use the ready-made jam sold over the counter which can be easily bought in most supermarkets or cake specialty stores in Singapore and Malaysia.
  • Shaping of Jams;
  • Preparation of Doughs;
  • Wrapping of Jams; and
  • Baking the Pastry

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The steps that I am going to detail here are rather unconventional and “unusual”. This is a method that I have used and found to be the easiest and fruitful method.  If you follow this recipe and preparation illustration strictly, you will get a melt in the mouth buttery pastry. Unlike other posts, I am rather insistent on the method and ingredients used to achieve that quality of tarts made. It is via many trial and error that I have come out with this recipe. There are no corn flours or cream cheeses as in other recipes. The pastry is just using extremely simple ingredients low gluten wheat flours or normal wheat flours, butter, sugar and egg. The recipe uses creaming method as opposed to the rubbing method but provide equally light pastry that melts in your mouth.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 1 kg  of pineapple jam.
  • 500g of plain flour
  • 350g of salted butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 50g of icing sugar
  • 4 egg yolks (note that in the picture there are some egg whites which is not supposed to be there)
  • 4 tablespoons of icy cold water. You can have 3 tablespoons of water from the fridge and one ice cubes.
  • Pinches of salt
  • 2 egg yolks (for egg washing)

Pineapple Jams – Personally, I prefer the pineapple jam that are made with the pulps included. It will be slightly sour and fibrous. There are some category labelled  as “premium quantity” (which is made purely from the flesh) but in my humble opinion, the jams will are too sweet and too soft for this golf shape pineapple tarts

Salted Butter – I am rather insistent that it must be pure butter. No vegetable oil and mixture of vegetable oil and animal fats. Put aside the health issues, the fats selected must have high fat content!

Icy cold water – It is very important to have ice-cold water to incorporate air into the dough. When it is ice-cold, butter will not melt that soon and therefore, it is less likely to have a sticky dough.

Icing sugar – It must be icing sugar as the sugar must be extremely fine so that you don’t have any sugars that are not dissolved in the pastry due to the special handling of this dough.

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SHAPING OF JAMS

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  • Cut over the jam package. Use your best estimation to divide the jam equally. I am making about 1oo jam balls for 1 kg of pineapple jams. About 10 g per balls.
  • When shaping the balls, you may find it extremely sticky. Pat your hands with some clean water. the balls that you made will become very smooth. If you have excessive water in your hands, your balls will become very slippery and it will drop.
  • Get ready a plastic container, arranged it nicely layer by layer. In between the layer, add a piece of plastic sheet to separate the balls. This step is also deemed to be a must if you are following my methods later.
  • Once you have shaped all the jams, stored in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Don’t worry if your jam looks like an iron ball, that is ideal if you can constantly keep it in that way. Well this is a rather controversial step.

Notes

This step is preferably done the day before. Even not, should be at least 3-4 hours before. Unless you are an expert, you can wrap with immediately shaped balls, otherwise, 3-4 hours preparation, in my humble opinion is a must. You will know the reasons why very soon.


PREPARING THE DOUGHS…..

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  • Sift your flours, if possible two times in a container. Set aside for later use.
  • In  a mixing bowl, placed your butter and sugar. Beat until creamy.
  • Add in the egg yolks one by one, reduce your speed to slow and beat until the yolk were well mixed

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  • Take out the mixing bowl and fold in the flours using a big metal spoon as lightly as possible.
  • Alternate with icy cold water until all the flours and water have been added and well mixed.
  • Scope into a plastic container and put inside the refrigerator and let it cool for at least 1/2 to 1 hour.

Notes:

The harder it is, the easier for you to wrap. If you know how to handle this type of soft dough, you can wrap directly. However, for my wrapping method to be shared below, it is advisable for you to cool your dough until the butter start to solidify a bit.

If you are making a big batch of pineapple tarts, to save your electricity and effort, you can make the dough all at once at keeping it in the fridge. It can keep for a long period of time (at least more than a week) provided you only take the portion that you want for that session and keep all the rest in the fridge until you need it for the next session.

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WRAPPING THE DOUGHS AND ….

Here is the fun and controversial part.

I will show you the traditional way of wrapping and then show you my own way of wrapping to increase your productivities.

My unique way of wrapping was discovered by me during one of the nights just before Chinese New Year when I have to rush out the orders for my customers. The time is already very late, almost 11:00 pm. Nobody is helping me as my wife and my kids have to sleep early as they have to attend the school next day. I have to make at least 2 kg  jam equivalent of pineapple tarts (about 240 pineapple tarts). I am tired as nobody was helping me, I suddenly felt the urge to discontinue the making of the tarts. I threw all the balls into the dough, walked to the balcony and take a rest. After 15 minutes when I cooled down, I tried to salvage the situation and that I discovered this method was the best method so far. Subsequent testing confirmed that this was the easiest and with the thinnest dough. However, there are a few requisites that you must follow strictly as what I have described above and subsequently.

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  • Shape your dough into 10 grams each.
  • Flattened the dough, take a jam ball and put on top of it. Wrap it and shaped into a round ball.

You can use this method but since the objective is to have a mouthful pineapple tart. The pastry must be light and melt in your mouth. The flattening of dough may result in over handling of dough that yields harder crust eventually.  

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  • Pre-heat your oven to  180 degree Celsius.
  • Take out your dough, and use a spoon to slightly loosen the dough.
  • Take the jam balls from the freezer and throw, say, the first layers of the hard jam balls into the dough container. Put the rest back to the freezer.
  • Put some dough on top of the balls and rolled the balls on top of the hard dough.

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  • Shape the dough following the shape of the round hard jam balls and put in the baking trays.

Note:

This is a very important step, the harder the balls, the better it is for you to shape. The cold temperature of the balls will help to make the butter in the dough in solid form and resulting in light pastry crust.

As long as the dough covers the balls, you can start shaping it. Hard balls made your shaping very easy and give your final pineapple tarts an identical shape.

You need to time to make the tarts and at the same time, your balls will start to defrost. Therefore it is a must that you put it back into the freezer for it to get hard again. Rubbing the balls against the dough is very fast and quickly enclosed your jam balls.

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  • First egg wash before you  send the tarts into the oven. For egg wash, hand beaten 2 egg yolks and add 2 big tablespoons of water and 2 drops of oil. Sift and put in a container. Use a brush to lightly brush the tarts.
  • Put the tarts into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. 
  • 15 minutes after baking, take out the tray and have the second egg wash. By now, your tarts will start to take shape and firmer, so you can apply the egg wash more liberally. But care still have to be taken because it is “melt in your mouth”, when it is hot, it is still very “fragile”. so handle with care!!
  • After 5 minutes, take out the tarts and your mission is completed.

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Updated picture

Pineapple tarts prepared on January 2014

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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a rather controversial way of making the tarts. However, the tarts that you made will really melt in your mouth.
  • It is unusual for me to say that you have to follow my exact steps but for this pastry, you have to follow very closely. Even 1 tablespoon less icy water may make your final products very floury.

  • The order of procedures have to be adhered very closely. Too high the temperature will make your dough sticky and finally your products become very hard. In addition, it will be rather difficult to handle if both the jam and the dough become sticky.
  • The selection of the ingredients are very important. I personally prefer animal fats with high fat content with no compromise. In addition, the jam preferably will include some pulp as it will not be too sweet and too sticky.

  • Practice made perfect! It is not tough but you must have that feeling of touch so if you fail your first attempt, you should not be deter to try the second time.

 

Hope you like the post and have a nice day. Cheers

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UPDATED ON 9 JANUARY 2014 WITH INCLUSION OF VEGETARIAN PINEAPPLE TARTS


Every year I have to prepare two types of pineapple tarts: normal pineapple tarts and vegetarian pineapple tarts. Vegetarian pineapple tarts means that there are NO EGGS, NO BUTTER AND NO MILK. Therefore, it is acceptable for vegetarian by religion – particularly Buddhism.

Eggs have the ability to provide fragrance and binding effect of the tarts. These are substitute by corn flour. For egg wash purposes, honey is used instead of egg yolks. Of course the results will be less shinny like those egg washed by egg yolks. As for butter, it is substituted with margarine or other vegetable fats. In this recipe, it was 50% of margarine and 50% of olive oil bread spread. The end products will have some fragrance of olive oil. No detail illustration will be provided except the recipe. It is nice and slightly crispier than traditional pineapple tarts minus the butter aroma. It is definitely acceptable to me when I am on a vegetarian diet.

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VEGETARIAN PINEAPPLE TARTS RECIPES

  • 1 kg  of pineapple jam.(凤梨酱)

Dough

  • 400g of plain flour (面粉)
  • 200g of corn flour (玉米粉)
  • 175g margarine (Planta) (植物油)
  • 175g olive oil spread (can be substitute with margarine) (橄榄油-涂面包所用)
  • 50 g of icing sugar (糖粉)
  • Pinches of salt (少许盐)

“Egg Washing”

  • 1 tablespoon of honey with 1.5 tablespoon of water/soya milk – mixed well (1汤匙蜂蜜+1.5 汤匙的水或豆奶)

It is hoped that with this recipe, more people will be able to enjoy the South East Asian famous pineapple tarts. If you are on a gluten free diet, you can try to substitute the plain flour with gluten free flour

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pineapple tarts collage11

 

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Simple Carrot Muffins for Your Love Ones…

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INTRODUCTION

This is a simple carrot muffin with cream cheese frosting. It is simple and quick to do without the need to use any mechanical beaters or mixers and animal fats. Therefore it a rather healthy breakfast item or tea time item. The simple cream cheese frosting (optional) will help to smoothen the texture and enhance the taste of the muffins.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

The measurement below can make about 8-9 medium size muffins of about 120g each.

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For carrot muffins

  • 150 g of grated carrots
  • 75 g of raisins
  • 75 g of chopped walnuts or chopped almonds or any nuts (optional)
  • 180 g of white caster sugar

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  • 125 g of cooking oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 320 g of self raising flours
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of grounded ginger (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate 
  • 0.5 teaspoon of baking powder (optional)

For cream cheese frostings

  • 125 g of cream cheese
  • 50 g of icing sugar

STEPS OF PREPARATION

Carrot Muffins

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  • Preheat oven to moderate 180 degree Celsius and get ready 9 medium sized muffin cups.
  • In a mixing bowl, place carrots, raisins, almonds and sugar and lightly mixed it.
  • In another mixing bowl, place the oil and egg together. Whisk the liquid mixture until mix.
  • Place the dry mixtures (carrots, raisins, almonds and sugar) into the whisked liquid mixture and until well mixed.

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  • Add the sifted flour, sodium bicarbonate, baking powder, spices (cinnamon or spice mix (optional))  into the liquid mixture.
  • Combined lightly with wooden spoon or metal spoon and well mixed.
  • Scoop out the mixture into the muffin cups  about 3/4 full and baked for about 30 minutes or until skewer come out clean.

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Cream Cheese Frostings

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  • Using electric beaters, beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and creamy.

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  • Spread on top of the muffins or pump on top of the muffins if desired.
  • Dust with cinnamon or color sugar crystals (optional).
  • Served with addition cream cheese frosting, when necessary.


CONCLUSION:

  • This pastry can be as healthy as you want it to be. Cooking oil are generally considered as healthier alternative as compared to animal fats such as butter.
  • Suggested frosting of cream cheese (which is optional if you are health conscious) will make the muffins even smoother and blend well with the taste.
  • It is easy and simple to make as there is no need to use any mechanical equipment.
  • Cost of preparing these muffins are relatively lower than other cup cakes since only very basic ingredients will be used.

Hope you like this simple muffin and simple post. Have a nice day and happy reading.

 

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Basic But Presentable, Basic But Irresistible…Basic Raisin Scones Shared… (葡萄干司康)

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Updated Post on : 7 September 2014

This post was issued on 7 July 2013, more than a year ago. Then I just started my blog and I barely have any idea of photo taking for the recipes. I felt that I have not do any justice to this post as it is a workable recipe that I like very much. Since today I am preparing this for breakfast, I have decided to do another photo shot.

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All scones recipes are basically the same, comprising flour, milk and butter. What create a difference is the handling, remember : LIGHT AND SWIFT HANDLING, as long as it can form a dough, you can shape and bake. Scones will never look pretty, a rugged look will mean it is well risen and air were incorporated into the pastry. Hope all will like it.

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INTRODUCTION

Yes, today baking item is rather simple and basic. There is no short cut method and lets start from the basic of “pastry” making. A traditional, simple yet delicious breakfast items – Raisin Scones.

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SCONE DEFINED

A scone is a single-serving cake or quick bread. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent, and are baked on sheet pans. They are often lightly sweetened and are occasionally glazed. The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea. It differs from a tea cake and other sweet buns, which are made with yeast. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scone)

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WHAT IS NEEDED?

Materials for scone are extremely simple and basic. It is flour (wheat flour or oatmeal flour), liquid (milk), fats (butter) and some leavening agents (baking powder). It’s proportion of butter to flour are very low therefore, making it drier and unlike cakes which are moist and greasy.

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The following measurements are in the making 10 medium sized scones.

  • 500 g of plain flour – sieved
  • 100 g of cold butter cut into cubes and keep in the fridge for further use.
  • 2 cups (about 500 ml) of cold milk, plus a few tablespoons for glazing
  • 1 cup (about 160 g) of raisins (optional)
  • Pinches of salt.
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Preheat the oven to hot 2200C and lightly grease a baking tray or put a baking paper on the baking tray.
  • Sift the flour, pinches of salt and baking powder into a big mixing bowl.
  • Add the butter cubes from the fridge.
  • Use finger tips to lightly rub the butter until butter and flour are well mixed resembling crumbs. Rubbing should be light and fast.

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  • Compare the first and second picture, you can that the butter have stick to the flour and small crumbs were formed.

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  • Add in raisins and mixed lightly with the buttered flour.
  • Make a centre in the flour. Add almost all the cold milk and mix lightly in the same direction with a spoon/spatula/flat bladed knife.

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  • Mix until the dough comes together in a clump. Because the moisture content of flours may varies, therefore. amount used can also varies depending on the room temperature or attitude!  If it is too dry, use the remaining cold milk.
  • Dust some flour in the table and in your hand.

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  • Use floured hand and gather the dough together.
  • Lightly shape it into a smooth ball and lift out onto a lightly floured surface;
  • Lightly pat the dough in a 2 cm thick and use a rolling pin to lightly roll on the dough until even.
  • Use a 5 cm diameter cutter to cut the scones into rounds. Note that if you do not have the round cutter, you can also cut it into a triangular shape which is perfectly acceptable for a scone. Traditional scones are triangular shapes in fact.

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  • Gather the trimmings together, press out as before and cut more rounds.
  • Lightly brush with milk.

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  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until risen and golden on top.
  • If it had already risen and the top is not golden yet, brushed with additional milk and bake until the milk dries up. The color shall be darker now.

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  • A successful should have some signs of rising along the side signifying that it is well risen, light and not compact.

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  • Scones are best served fresh from the oven, warm at room temperature.
  • Served  with whipped cream, butter or jam. All these are suggestions and optional. However, the combination of these three items with a warm scone is definitely worth the efforts of preparing it.
  • Usually, it was usually served as a breakfast item or at tea time “quick breads” with a pot of hot tea.
  • If you can’t finish the scone, just freeze it. Heat up before next servings.

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TIPS ON MAKING A GOOD SCONE

If you are observant enough, you will notice that I have kept repeating the words “cold” and “light”. Yes, in order to have butter crumbs, the butter need to be cold so that it is in a solid state.

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If the butter melts at room temperature (it will at times when the room temperature is too high, it will not become a crumb but become a batter instead. The need to have butter in solid form is to introduce air into the dough. When butter melts, it will become a hole in the dough and replaced by air. The scone will be lighter and softer.

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The same principle applies to light handling of the dough. The use of flat bladed knife will introduce air to the mixture, rough handling on the other hand, will push all the air out of dough causing the dough to be hard and possibly chewy. Therefore, never knead your dough like making the bread.

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CONCLUSION

To conclude:

  • Scones are easy to prepare and an excellent choice of breakfast or tea time item.
  • As scones have very low fat contents, it is rather dry and usually served with cream, jam or butter. However, these are all optional depending on individual health objectives.
  • All types of scones are prepared using the same principle, adding the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, mix the dough as briefly, lightly and swiftly as possible. This recipe is rather basic and you can easily modify it to become cranberry, lemon flavoured or other flavours that suit your taste buds.

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Lastly, hope that you enjoy reading and take a step out to try making the scones..  

Have a nice day and cheers.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 28 July 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Blanching Vegetables in Chinese Cooking – 利用汆烫准备可口的中式的”菜”肴

 

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INTRODUCTION

Traditional Chinese cooking don’t usually use the blanching method for cooking its vegetables. Usually, they stir fried with oil in a hot wok or frying pan. 

My mum will usually take out a frying pan, put in some oil, stir fry the garlic or shallots until golden brown, throw in the vegetables, add seasonings, stir fried for another 1-2 minutes and scope in the plate for serving. That is rather traditional and applicable to almost all types of vegetables. The disadvantages of using oil for stir flying vegetables are that the vegetable’s will lose its color and some vitamins will lose in this process.

In most restaurants, realizing that the color of the vegetables will turn less appealing and that the texture will be compromised, the chef will usually blanched the vegetable before stir frying the vegetables. This will  cut short the stir frying time so as to preserve its greenish appearance and some of the vitamins.

In this post, I will share with you the various combinations that you can prepare your vegetable dish using the water blanching method without stir frying but the dishes are equally tasty. 


WHY THIS POST

My son, aged 7 have a slightly high body mass index and was requested by the school authority to participate in the weight reduction program. Knowing that the school is concerning about his weight issue, I have decided to alter my methods of cooking and one of which is by blanching the vegetables instead of stir frying the vegetables. The first meal (blanched kailan with oyster sauce)  was well received by my family members and the whole plate of vegetables were being snatched by my son, daughter and wife within 5 minutes of putting in the table. Seeing such a good response from the family members, I have decided to explore more vegetables and with as many types of dressing as possible..In the next 9 meals that I prepared, I have created different dressings with different vegetables and to my delight, they don’t really notice the difference and my son have requested for more vegetables..


 

BLANCHING METHOD DEFINED..

According to http://chinesefood.about.com,

“Blanching is a process whereby the food is briefly plunged in boiling water for a moment. Sometimes it is then immediately transferred to ice water to stop the cooking process. This technique is commonly used with Chinese vegetables prior to stir-frying. The goal is to bring out the color and flavor of the vegetable without overcooking.source: (http://chinesefood.about.com/od/glossary/g/blanch.htm)”


BLANCHING OF CHRYSANTHEMUM GREEN ILLUSTRATED

In this post, I will share with readers one vegetable dish that I have prepared for my dinner today – Chrysanthemum green with Chinese black vinegar dressing (春菊拌浙醋)。Measurements were intentionally omitted as it is just vegetables plus seasonings all of which can be adjusted to individual tastes.

Chrysanthemum green is a type of vegetables that are quite common in Korean, Japanese , Taiwanese and Cantonese Cuisines. It can be eaten raw but the stems can be slightly tough. It can be stir fried, blanched or cooked in soup or appeared as a garnish in some Chinese dishes like Taiwanese oyster pancake.

 

WHAT YOU NEED

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  • Some chrysanthemum greens (you can chopped the stems into smaller pieces)
  • Some cherry tomatoes
  • Some sesame seeds, fried onion for garnishing
  • Some light soya sauce, black vinegar or lime juice, sesame oils (onion oil), salt, sugar

 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash the vegetables and set aside. As this preparation only deal with blanching, you may wish to soak the vegetables in the water for a longer while to clear all unseen particles and chemicals..
  • Take out a container or salad bowl and put in your condiments. In the above picture, I have included some shredded chili, fried onions, Chinese black vinegar, salt, pepper and sesame oil.
  • In a frying pan, put in some water. Add in pinches of salt (as you can see the white patch next to the red color patch) and a few drops of onion oil (cooking oil also can be used). This feel drop of oils are very important to preserve the color of your blanched vegetables and to keep the juices in the vegetables.
  • When the water is boiling, throw in the chrysanthemum green and let it boiled for about 3 minutes.


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  • Add in the cherry tomatoes and blanched for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Sieve the blanched vegetables and transfer to the salad bowl or the mixing container. Note that I have by passed the step of blanching the vegetable in some ice water as the dish will be served immediately after it is prepared. However, if you prefer, you can dip the blanched vegetable in ice water of about 1 minutes to preserve its crunchiness (not necessary depending on type of vegetables) and color.
  • Stir until well mix and transfer to another plate. Sprinkle with sesame seed and best served hot with rice.

The dish is simple and as chrysanthemum greens are a bit tough, you can blanch it longer and cut into smaller pieces. This dish is full of vitamins and the Chinese black vinegar dressing is just like the French dressing in French cuisines. Of course there are oriental elements such as sesame oil and black vinegar that make it taste like Chinese cuisines. Should I have lime (kalamansi with me), I will use it instead of black vinegar. It is fully flexible be it type of dressings, toppings and vegetables.


VARIATIONS

For the sake of oil less cooking, there are many Chinese vegetable dishes which can use the blanching method instead of traditional stir frying method.

Blanching method of Chinese vegetable dishes like the Western cuisine’s salad preparation is a matter of finding the right combination of vegetables and dressings. Chinese are less prone to eating the vegetables freshly picked (raw), therefore in order to promote healthier eating habitat with minimal amount of fats possible, an intermediary step is to blanch the vegetables .

The following table shows different types of Chinese vegetables that I have ever cooked using the blanching method and different dressings used. Both the list of vegetables and dressings are endless and are open to all types of combinations depending on the chef’s creativities.

Vegetables Meat  (protein)
Kailan
Minced pork
Pak Choy Meat slices/strips
Choy Sim Chicken breast
Broccoli Prawns
White Stem Pak Choy Shredded chickens
Chrysanthemum Greens Pork /chicken floss
Capsicum Baby Shrimps
Celery

Anchovies
Tomatoes Egg omelet strips
etc., etc., etc.  (endless) etc., etc., etc.  (endless)
   
Something to bite Seasonings
Sesame seeds Black Vinegar
crunched nuts Lime/kalamansi juice
Japanese rice seasoning sprinkle Mayonnaise+Tomato sauce (‘000 island)
Macadamia Salt
Chopped chili Sugar
Chopped fresh garlic MSG (if you preferred)
Fried garlics or shallots Onion Oil
Pine seeds Pepper
Dry mushrooms stripes Belachan (shrimp paste)
Shredded century eggs Oyster sauce
etc., etc., etc.  (endless) etc., etc., etc.  (endless)

SAMPLE DISHES

The pictures below are some of the dishes that I have prepared for my family as detailed in “what I have cooked today series”. The preparation are basically the same, blanching and mixed. You can also see more in the linked – PINTEREST BOARD-VEGETABLE DISHES HERE

Blanched mix vegetables with prawns (杂菜虾球)

 

Blanched Baby Kailan with Oyster Sauce (

耗油小芥兰)

Blanched White Stem Pak Choy with anchovies (

小银鱼白菜)

Blanched Broccoli with Minced Pork (

肉碎西兰花)

 

 

 

 

 

Blanch Tri-color Capsicum with Chicken Breast (

三色柿子椒拌鸡柳)

Blanched baby Pak Choy with minced pork (

肉碎拌小奶白)

Pak Choi with Oyster Sauce (

耗油上海青)

Blanched Chye Sim with meat floss (菜心拌肉松)


CONCLUSIONS

In traditional Chinese cooking, blanching of vegetables is generally not common. The exposure of Western Cuisines have made me come out with this fusion which I believed will be acceptable by both Asians and non-Asians. Without stir frying, the vegetables can be equally tasty.

While this resembles salad in western cuisines’ term but it have elements of oriental cooking due to the type of condiments used. It will definitely healthier because fats intake will be limited and more vitamins will be retain in the vegetable resulting from shorter cooking time. It will also eliminate the fear of eating raw vegetables which is supposed to be even more nutritious.

My favorite dressing is a type of dip for my fried fish (light soya sauce + chili + lime juice + shredded garlics + bit of sugar). For me , it blends equally well when I used it for my blanched vegetables. I like to prepare this if I want to lose weight and of course this is an acquired taste. You can invent your own dressing and you will be surprised that how well received blanched vegetables are if the dressings are right!

Why don’t you try my favorite dressing and let me know what you think?