Monday, February 15, 2010

Updated Rendang - Tok Rembau

We like to try making and eating different types of Rendang.  Rendang is a Malaysian style curry spiced with ground spices and thicken with ground toasted grated coconut. Flipping through the cookbooks we could not identify the last Rendang enjoyed. So instead, we decided to make Rendang Rembau from Negeri Sembilan. However, inspiration struck! My dear husband had just bought a box of fresh young coconut. We decided to marry Rendang Rembau with Rendang Tok from Perak, which incorporates the flesh of young coconut in their Rendang in addition to the kerisik (toasted grated coconut).

We enjoyed the Rendang although it could have been spicier. I guess winter chilies are not as spicy as those in hotter months. I will use dried chilies the next time.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pineapple Tarts

Chances are if you were to ask an overseas Chinese from Malaysia or Singapore, what cookie they miss most during Chinese New Year, Pineapple Tart will top the list. This year I made 2 batches of pineapple jam. One from fresh pineapple and another from canned pineapple rings in pineapple syrup. The jam made from fresh pineapple was a tad fresher in taste, though not significantly. I would certainly make the jam from fresh pineapple if they were in season and reasonably priced. Otherwise, I would not hesitate to make it out of canned pineapple.

I experimented with two different pastry recipe. One more melt in the mouth feel and the other a little less so and also less sweet. The melt in the mouth pastry had cornflour and icing sugar. Choose the pastry recipe depending on your preference. Both are very good.

I got to use my brand new silicone rolling pin - the Silpin and Even bands. They worked beautifully. I barely had to use any additional flour, only lightly flouring the pastry cloth I rolled the pastry on. The Even Bands were ingenious! They are heavy duty rubber bands of various thickness you slip unto the rolling pin. Pastry rolled out perfectly to desired thickness. I am so glad I traded in my trusty 21 year old wooden rolling pin.

Kuih Bangkit

A restlessness has been upon me as Chinese New Year approaches. The urge to bake and cook is strong. I resisted it no more. Yesterday, I made some Kuih Bangkit- a traditional Nonya Arrowroot Flour cookie. Last year, I could not find the elusive arrowroot flour and had to fall back on recipes that used Tapioca and cornflour instead. The cookies were hard. A few months back I chanced upon Arrowroot Flour by Bob's Red Mill while shopping at Henry's. I grabbed two bags full and stashed them away.....for Chinese New Year.

I truly miss my Ah Mah, my paternal grandmother. She made the most amazing Kuih Bangkit. Beautiful, white and melt in your mouth.CNY baking is a family affair. I remember coming home from school and rushing to the kitchen table. Most of the time I was relegated to dotting the eyes duty. A small saucer of red food dye with sticks of toothpicks were my tools. I patiently wait as my grandmother, my aunt and my mom, press balls of dough into the designs of the floured wooden moulds. A swipe of the butter knife, removes excess dough. A deft swift flick of the wrist, knocks the mould against the table top and out pops the cookies. The cookies are placed on the cookie tray where I give life (eyes) to rabbits, frog, fishes, birds or flowers. Regretfully, as I grew up, I never went beyond making the cookies to actually making the dough with Ah Mah. By the time I was in my teenage years and young adult, Ah Mah was living with third uncle and his family. I made fancy modern and western cookies. I received my tin of Kuih Bangkit from Ah Mah but stop making them with her. The trend of buying CNY cookies was beginning to take its evil root...... (a practice I abhor I let you know). Then I moved to the US. By the time I was ready to once again learn the secrets of making CNY cookies, Ah Mah was rendered bedridden by a stroke......My beautiful, gutsy, strong and funny Ah Mah is gone now but always remembered. I see her vividly as I use her Kuih Bangkit moulds. Wished I have her whisk.... ha,ha I can see her beating the egg yolks with sugar to a thick golden froth with the round coiled whisk in an up down motion.

Determined to succeed this year, I had my husband crack a fresh coconut for me which I patiently grated with my coconut grater bought at an Indian grocery store ( yes, another toy). Ordinarily, I would have just popped open a can of coconut cream. I put the precious grated coconut in a muslin cloth and squeeze the daylight out of it. Managed to only get 100ml of first santan ( coconut milk). Alas, I made to make up the difference with a carton of coconut cream. So continues my adventure....