Sunday, November 29, 2009


When my children thought these puffs were deep fried it was like little bubbles of pleasure had burst inside of me. I knew I had hit the jackpot.

Traditionally Malay curry puffs are deep fried to acquire a crispy crust to complement the spicy curry filling of meat and potatoes inside. But finally, I have conjured up the perfect curry puff crust....that is, baked and not fried, for a healthier version.

Yet they were crisp, crusty, crunchy and flaky and stayed that way for hours. Comparable and as delicious as the traditionally deep fried ones.

I had used the short crust pastry dough for the Nori Nibbles in my previous post but to which I added an extra ounce of butter which proved to be a very good move because it simply made the pastry that much crustier.

Since I also wanted the pastry to take the form of a spiral pastry dough which seems to be the rage these days in Malaysian curry puff world I rolled out the dough into a rough rectangle that was about 1/4 inch thick.

Then, just in the nick of time, I remembered Jamie Oliver's pastry for his Portuguese Egg Tarts. So I decided to sprinkle some cinnamon powder over the pastry rectangle before rolling it up.

That little activity stimulated me and I thought chillie powder would be good too so I reached for some and sprinkled that on which in turn got me more animated that I thought cumin would be even better so I sprinkled that on as well.

With that, I may have perfected the Art of Indecisiveness.

Verdict : None of the spices stood out in flavour. I should have stuck to one spice and sprinkled a substantial amount rather than a little of each. Preferred choice : cinnamon. Or curry powder?

No matter. The curry puffs were a hit anyway.

And although they were not as pretty as I would have liked them to be they passed the bill in this house.

PS : I had also sprinkled some grated cheddar cheese over the filling before I folded the pastry over to seal. That added a nice cheesy twist.

The recipe..............................

For the filling...............

200 gm beef fillet or chicken tenders, minced or cut into very thin and tiny pieces
2 medium potatoes or 1 medium potato and 1 small sweet potato, skinned and diced small
1 white onion, diced finely
2 pips garlic, (optional)
2 T curry powder plus 1/4 cup of water and mixed to a paste
1/4 - 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
1 T cornflour mixed with a little water

Some grated cheddar cheese (optional)

4 T cooking oil

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onions, garlic until fragrant. Add the curry powder paste and continue to saute until the curry paste turns darker and is cooked through.

Add in the diced potatoes and the meat and the chicken stock or water, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are tender and the meat done. Add salt to taste. Finally thicken with cornflour.

Ideally the mixture should be between dry and ever so slightly saucy. Thick-ish really.

Let the cooked filling cool completely before using.

The pastry......................

8 oz plain flour
5 oz butter, frozen block of it
5-6 T of ice cold water

Sift flour into a medium bowl, Grate the frozen butter over the flour. Using your finger tips mix the flour and butter so that the curls of butter are well coated and are distributed evenly throughout.

Sprinkle about 5 or 6 tablespoons of cold water over the flour-butter mix and using a fork at first stir to bring the dough together. If the dough seems a little too dry add another tablespoon of cold water and mix again. When the dough looks moist enough to cling together, use your fingers to gather and pat and squeeze the dough into a squarish shape very lightly.

*Excessive handling will make the dough tough and the butter will melt.

Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the freezer for 15v minutes or so until it firms up but not too hard sothat you can still roll it out.

*It is important that the butter remains in visible pieces because this is what will make the pastry puff, be crunchy and ever so flaky. The batter forms pockets as the pastry bakes and as it melts and the steam from the melting butter pushes up the dough forming layers making the resulting pastry puffy and flaky.

Take the dough out from the freezer and flour a board. Place the dough on top and roll out the dough until it forms a rough rectangle that is about between 1/4 inch thick. (Sorry that I did not measure the size)

You may make the edges neat by trimming them. I didn't because I did not want to waste any pastry.

Sprinkle some cinnamon/cumin/chillie powder or cayenne pepper generously over the rectangle of dough. Roll up the dough tightly from one end until it becomes a log. Place in the freezer again to firm up if your kitchen is warm like mine.

Constructing the curry puffs...............

Take out from the freezer and slice a few slices at a time (perhaps at most 4, if your kitchen is warm). The slices should be about but not quite 1 cm thick. Roll out one slice until it becomes a bigger circle about 3 inches in diameter. You will be able to see a spiral of dark spice in the slice of dough. Put the filling in the centre using a small teaspoon, add some grated cheddar dheese if you like then fold the pastry circle over the filling and crimp to seal with your fingers, Malaysian style, or press with a fork. Finish the rest of the pastry in the same way. You will get about 20 - 25 curry puffs. While you are doing a few slices refrigerate the rest.

Bake the curry puffs in a preheated oven at 170 C for s5 - 30 minutes until teh curry puffs ar alight golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


These nibbles were good, crispy and fun to make (save the washing up) and I'm glad that my children liked them. Twisted and rolled with seaweed caught in between it makes a nice, dainty savoury nibble. A light snack. Very good to serve with a glass of ice cold lemon tea or with a mug of Nescafe thickened with lots of milk.

I made them using a short crust pastry recipe. But instead of rubbing the butter in until they resembled fine breadcrumbs I grated a block of frozen butter over a bowl of sifted flour so that they gathered into a pile of pretty, lush and golden curls like a little girl's eyelashes. I mixed them up very, very lightly with my finger tips so that each sumptuous golden lash was lightly coated with flour and then sprinkled 5 to 6 tablespoons of ice cold water into the mix.

I mixed it with a fork and then used my fingers to bring the dough together. NO KNEADING AT ALL. You don't want the butter and flour blending in smoothly. All that was needed were some gentle squeezes and a few pats, I then wrapped the dough in cling film and placed it in the freezer for a few minutes to chill and firm up.

Those flaky curls of butter did so much to give this pastry a crisp and layer-y effect that it almost seemed like a rough puff pastry.

I used seaweed as a flavouring because I have been having the Nori seaweed laying around for ages. And of course because I lOVE Nori.

The recipe...................

8 oz plain flour, sifte
4 oz frozen block of butter, salted
5-6 T of ice cold water

4 sheets of Nori seaweed
1 egg, beaten salt n pepper

Place the sifted flour into a medium bowl. Grate the frozen butter over the flour. With your finger tips gather the flour and butter very lightly until the butter flakes are evenly covered in flour. Sprinkle the ice cold water over the flour butter mix and using a fork at first stir to bring the dough together.

Then using your fingers WITHOUT KNEADING gather the dough and pat it into a firm ball. Shape into a square. Wrap in cling film and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes until the dough is a little firmer.

Divide the dough into quarters. Take one quarter, keeping the rest in the freezer again.

Roll out the portion of dough until quite thin or very slightly larger than the nori sheet. Make sure it is squarish like the Nori sheet. Brush the rolled out dough with the beaten egg, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the seaweed sheet over it. Brush he seaweed sheet with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

At this point you might have decided to make sticks or spirals.

If making sticks : Just fold the pastry lined seaweed into half lengthwise. Press down lightly with a rolling pin just to ensure that the pastry sticks to the seaweed. Cut with a pizza cutter or with a pair of scissors into 10 strips. Twist each stick a little if you wish. Do the same with the rest of the portions of pastry. You will get 40 sticks/strips in all.

If making spirals : Instead off folding the pastry over you roll up the pastry into a log. You then place the roll into the freezer until it is quite hard but not rock hard. Take it out and slice into discs about 1/4 inch thick. I think you would be able to get about 15 to 20 discs from each log. I forget exactly.

Place the sticks or discs about 1/2 inch apart and bake in a preheated oven at 170 C for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Store in an airtight container or serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


What can I say. These are scones. Just plain scones with raisins embedded. Made with flour, butter, heavy cream, ground almonds/pecans and an egg. Handled lightly with your fingers, patted down and stamped with a round fluted cutter and baked for a mere 10 minutes. Its done.

Scones are best eaten warm or hot out of the oven. Kept overnight it tends to be dry and crumbly.

These are not high and mighty scones but they are, however, very light, moist and tender.

Plain scones do need to be eaten with butter and jam and/or clotted cream. Otherwise it isn't such an exciting pastry. A little boring in fact.

So I'm not at all surprised that the original plain scone has given way to a wide variety of savoury flavours. It makes it more interesting, it gives it more character and it definitely has more appeal.

But this is a very good basic scone recipe though. And I do like the addition of ground nuts into it. I believe it adds to the moistness. And of course I added the raisins which gave it a sweeter edge. On the whole I would have much preferred a savoury scone.

The next time I make scones I would omit the sugar. I would add some cheese, some slices of hot chillie pepper and maybe even some sliced sauteed onions or chives. And dare I suggest some chopped dried shrimps or anchovies as well? That would definitely be more appealing to my tastebuds.

I do apologize for the photographs. It's been dark and gloomy by the time I take the pictures so I do tend to end up with dark gloomy looking pictures too. Please bear with me.

The recipe...........

250 gm plain flour
1/4 cup ground pecans or almonds
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
60 gm butter
Almost 1 cup of heavy cream
1 egg

a handful of raisins or currants if you like. Or other dried fruits of your choice.

Sift flour and the baking powder and soda. Add salt, ground almonds and the sugar. Mix to incorporate the ingredients.Add the raisins if using.

Lightly beat egg in a measuring cup and add the heavy cream until it makes 1 cup of liquid.

Make sure the butter is very cold and cut it into smallish pieces. Put the butter in to the flour mixture and rub it in with your fingers very lightly or use 2 knives or a pastry cutter until it resembles coarsemeal or rough breadcrumbs. Its important to ensure that the butter doesn't melt and remain in small solid pieces so that the scones will be lifted up when the butter melts and its steam released while baking in the oven.

You may at this point chill the flour mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes if the kitchen is warm. Make a well in the centre and pour in the cream egg mixture. Using a fork stir very quickly until the mixture comes together. then using you finger bring the dough together to form a ball without kneading. place on a floured surface and pat the dough down with your fingers to about 1/2 inch in thickness. Cut into rounds.

Bake at 200 C for 10 - 12 mins. Best eaten warm with butter and jam and/or clotted cream.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Here's the true story of a disaster named Pandan Cake........almost verbatim.......(typos, short forms n silly expressions included) but superfluous sentences omitted.

Hi Ju,

Remember my comment this morning about making the pandan cake for a lunch 2morrow? well It turned out beautifully BUT because I didvided the recipe mixture(wh I doubled) between 2 8" pans they turned out a little thin.

BUT I was prepared to use them anyway and decided to make 2 more thin layers so that I get 4 layers in all.

In the meantime b4 i made the 2 xtra layers I made a white choc buttercream to go with the cake (wh I got frm another blog) but it turned out a little on teh sweet side.

Because of that n the fac tthat the lunch is for ladies who, I think, do no tlike anything too sweet I then thought that a four layered cake with 3 layers of buttercream in between and all over the cake would be a little too much.

Even I shudder to think of the richness.

So I decided to make the same total amount of the recipe again BUT this time to divide them between just 2 pans.

In other words I will be sandwiching a 2 layer (albeit higher cake)...which means less buttercream than a 4 layer cake.

I hope Im not confusing you ....LOL

Anyway ....

So I baked just about an hour ago and I had one fiasco after another....I think my eggs were not fresh so they didnt beat up to the right consistency...that failure I then turned into a plain cake n I used oil instead of butter cos I did not want to waste butter or the mixture.(but lets not go into that)

Then I made the pandan flavoured again (a whole new batch of mixture) and while I was folding in the flour and pandan juice etc. ..etc.. the whole thing deflated right before my very eyes!!!!!!!!!! like a burst balloon but without the sound.

WAAAAHHHHH....!! I felt like dumping it all over my head! LOL

So now I ma left with no cake ready for tomorrow!

IM now thinking of making a pineapple upsidedown cake instead wh does nt need buttercream n is easy (I hope murphys law doesnt play with me here again)

So I just want to tell you what a day I had.The whole afternoon was wasted...I couldnt do anything too because the maids were here . when they come I become the third maid...I have to watch n supervise them d whole afternoon! Wasted time for me.

I have only a few hours to redeem myself n I hope I manage to make a decent cake...those ladies expect a lot from me cos Im known as teh CAKE MAKER LAdy ...wh stresses me out even more!!!

Anyway I'm just ranting and I couldnt think of anyone else who would be willing enough to listen so I thought of you :))))

I just wanted to get it out of my chest....phew!!!

Thanks for reading this JU..(I know you will) Youre the sweetest! :)))


PS Ill let u know what happens tomorrow :))

JU's reply................(.about 2 hours later...).

Oh Zurin!! No no no no!!! Oh why?! The whole thing deflating like a burst balloon?? OK, that part was sad but hilarious ;P

I was clutching my chest as I read your email, my eyes almost popping, and then I burst out laughing in between. Oh dear!

It's one of those days. I know the feeling, and it always happens when you need to deliver. If it makes you feel any better, my grandma came over to my place last week (she seldom comes, cos I go over to her place) and I said I MUST cook something nice for her since she is always cooking for me. And for some reason, of all days, my curry turned out terrible. It's a dish I am so confident of, but that day, all the chicken and potatoes disintegrated into mush. MUSH. Who wants mushy curry, raise your hand. Bones in every bite for crunch. My grandma must have thought, your poor kids. They have to eat this kind of food everyday. LOL! Thank goodness she doesn't know about my food blog or she'll shake her head in disbelief! In the end, she still ate quite a lot (I removed all the bones) :) She said the taste was nice, but "for heaven's sake, use bigger chicken parts lah".

So Zu, what I want to say is, it's OK. It's frustrating but it's OK. We all have our "off" days. And your friends are going to love what you bake anyway. We are our harshest critics.
I am keeping my fingers crossed for you that Murphy's Law has knocked off for the day already! Tell me how everything went!

Sending good luck straight into your kitchen and oven!


My next email to Ju.........(the following day)...

Dear Ju,

So what happened was.............I baked a pineapple upside down cake last nite...Hub was kind enoughto drive me to the minimarket for a can of pineapples. I bought 2 cans. Just in case. Duh.

I decided to go with my tried and tested recipe from teh mango cake I have made b4 only to replace the mango with pineapple.

No problem...everything was measured out and glared at twice...the ingredients, the measurements and teh mixing was impossible to screw up...although I faltered at the butter sugar topping. In teh end I melted the butter and poured it inot the pan and sprinkled the sugar on top.

I placed the pineapple rings on top and the red glaced cherries in their little holes and it looked so pretty that I said Yippity doo daa. poured teh batter over and pushed it into the oven.

I baked it. set the timer for 45 minutes.

Watched tv then I smelt something .

Well guess what. the top was ssooooooooooooo brown . like....... balsamic red ..I think you get it by now.

Gosh I felt so like..kena ive been cursed by the cake goddess or something....and what was worse was that it wasnt even fully baked yet. I had to push it back into ....covered the top with foil and let it cook somemore.

In the meantime I took out teh butter..AGAIN.... ready to bake YET ANOTHER CAKE.. AGAIN.


to cut a ong story short............. It turned out ok ..the top was too brown but I told myself ..."waht the heck its an upsidedown cake!" THANK YOUUU CAKE GODdess.

so at the lunch today...everyone was happy an d as usual I got the nods of approval and little breaths of oohs and aahhs here and there :))))))) (ok maybe I imagined that)

actually I think they expected some fancy shcamancy buttercreamed decorated cake....wh was my intention BUT....

anyway, the platter was swiped clean Ju! not the best cake Ive made but quite beautiful ..saved me some butttercream (goingto use it for another cake) and I redeemed myself to myself. SIGH!:)))

Thank you Ju for and my rantings :))))

I'll spare you the next time :))

btw ur curry chicken mush story ...thank god ur grandma doesnt know u have a food blog...LOLOL ..if she knew she would think the world was coming to an end! lol


This is a true story. The names of people and places have not been changed because it's too silly. The protoganist now resides in Blogland to escape Reality.

The recipe is here...just replace the mango with pineapple rings and glaced cherries. I also brushed the top (after the cake was baked and cooled down) with some orange marmalade that has been warmed through to make it a little runny.

Moral of story.................Food bloggers make nice friends!

My very nice blogger friend is Ju, The Little Teochew

Monday, November 9, 2009


I don't want to rant about the weather. Well............maybe I do.

The sun shines in the morning nice and bright. But by at least 12 noon its starts to get cloudy and it drizzles. And 2 hours later it pours like we are being hosed down by the fire department. Everything is grey outside and while its kind of cool in feeling it's certainly not 'cool' a time to be taking photographs.

I scurry with my plate of whatever to my garden/front yard after fumbling with the keys to the grille (we must be careful these days in the city...snatch thieves and baddies can pop up anywhere and at any time) and place my props (which sometimes trail and drop all over behind me in my hurry) and place them as nicely as I can under a slowly closing sky (it's too dark in the house) and then I start snapping in between drizzles before it threatens to pour.

I scurry back inside with me plate and the humidity, un-click my memory card and snap it in to my comp. I check out the photos and they are all DULL.

I haven't been posting for some time and those are the reasons up there. Dark skies, pouring rain and dull pictures.

And ....hub drags/threatens/lectures/reads out the list of benefits of going to the gym.......every morning (Yes.... I'm like that). So that leaves me with dark, dull, grey afternoons to contemplate the worth of a photography session.

But post I must here's a dish of a noodle salad weaved with sardines, chunks of tomatoes, chopped green chillies, minced red onions and a dressing of mustard seeds, olive oil and lime juice. And a nice crunchy tasty topping of fried breadcrumbs. Nice and quite healthy.

This is a very easy dish to prepare. I would have used local noodles if I had some but pasta was good too. The only reason I prefer local noodles is because they are more tender and I could get the ones made without eggs.

I am sure freshly made pasta is awesome and is no comparison to the dried ones that I use, which I find a little 'tough' if I could use the word. Because I have never tasted freshly made pasta, I have, as a result, always preferred our local noodles for their texture.

Being a fish person I also love the use of sardines in oil in this dish. If I had my way I would have added some bird chilies to give it a bit more of a kick. But what topped it all was the use of the crispy fried breadcrumbs. It added that crunch. Jamie Oliver has some wonderful ideas and these breadcrumbs are one of them!

The recipe.................. for 1 or 2 persons

6 0zs of spaghetti, boiled in salted water with a dash of olive oil till till al dente and drained
1 small red onion, minced
1 green chillie or bird chillies,chopped
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 small can of sardines in oil (I used 120 gm can), drained

The dressing......

2 T olive oil
1-2 T lime juice
1-2 T mustard seeds (biji sawi), roasted in dry pan and pounded or 1 T whole grain mustard
1 or 2 cloves garlic, pounded or crushed
salt n pepper/chillie flakes

Topping............from Jamie Oliver's book (not to a T though)

A cup of breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper and some herbs if you like..
4 -5 T of olive/vegetable oil

Heat up the oil in a small pan. Drop the breadcrumbs in to the pan, spread it out evenly in a layer and fry till golden brown. Once crisp and brown lift off an d drain on kitchen paper

The Salad...........

Mix all the dressing ingredients with a whisk. Taste and adjust for salt and tangy-ness.

Place boiled and cooked spaghetti in a medium bowl, pour in dressing, followed by the chopped veggies and and sardines. Mix and toss well. Adjust for salt and pepper and tangy-ness again. Top with fried breadcrumbs. Serve cold. YUM.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Literally translated from the Malay language the Rose Apple/Water Apple/Wax Apple would be called 'water guava' to differentiate it from the other guava (apple guava) which is called 'stone guava' in Malay.

Although the apple guava are plants of the myrtle family and the rose apple is a genus of flowering plants that also belong to the myrtle family they are however completely different in texture and taste, the former being very firm and solid while the latter tender and almost cottony in texture and are sweet in different ways.

But the one thing that they can both be be eaten with the same dipping sauce.

The rose apple is beautiful. It may be a dark ruby red, it may be a bright blushing pink or when not quite ripe it would be a pinkish green.

It is completely pristine white inside, cottony in texture, tender but firm and usually with a couple of knobs of roundish seeds in middle.

It's usually sweet and moist and at worst it's tasteless and dry. But never sour.

It's shiny. It's beautiful.

I couldn't resist them when I caught sight of these ruby goblets at the Sunday night market recently so I paid 7 ringgit for a kilo. I got 9 of them. I chilled them in the fridge overnight and the next morning I made a dark, tangy and spicy dipping sauce. All the while picturing, impatiently, a sauce-slathered slice entering my face.

Now, if there was a torn and worn rattan chair waiting on a carpet of lush cow grass at the top of a gentle slope in the backyard of an old, sprawling colonial bungalow, where the sun sets in gold in the distance, where I would be able to sit and scrutinize a crawling row of large red ants heading towards a mango tree and be contemplating my next dessert in fruit form, with a cold, wet glass of sweet pineapple juice in one hand and a spicy, dripping sauced jambu air in the other while the hem of my floral skirt ruffles gently in the tropical breeze and all the while comprehending and enjoying the lyrics and melody of Les Champs Elysees playing in my head through my headphone I would say that my life was quite complete.

But alas...... as always....... it was not meant to be and life is usually a little less comforting than one could hope for.

So I'll settle for some slices of jambu air in the pretty bowl next to me and its sauce in another bowl on my left, facing my quite unromantic laptop while the hovering fan above my head spins to cool me down and not understanding a word of the pretty French song from the CD, which hub had just bought me as a present-for-no-reason 10 minutes ago, while I continue to blog about both my fantasies and the divine taste of the slices of jambu air dripping with a luscious sauce that I had just consumed.

So be it. And may tomorrow be another fantaisie.

The sauce is a wee bit tangy, slightly spicy (or more if you like), somewhat salty and with a pinch of sweet all thrown in. You just have to love it. As I do.

The recipe..................

4 large red chillies, seeds left in or de-seeded OR some bird chillies for fire
1 garlic clove
3 - 4 T of thick dark soy sauce
1 T of granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lime

Pound the chillies and garlic in a mortar and pestle until quite fine or slightly coarse and then mix in all the other ingredients and mix well.

Serve with slices of jambu air. Divine.


Related Posts with Thumbnails