AFC GRILLED : Chef Sean Connolly

An evening of good food.

Lap Cheong Watermelon Bites

An asian take on watermelon bites!

Baked Fish with Kiwi in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add a twist to sweet and sour fish!

Semperit Pandan Cookies

Cute cookies for the festive season!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Food Discovery : Ramadan Bazaar Kuih Finds

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The Festival of Fast-Breaking or Hari Raya Aidilfitri as we know it, falls on 28th of July this year. That's today. It marks the end of Ramadan (Islamic calendar month), a fasting period for the Muslims.

It is only during the Ramadan month that food bazaars are set up in several localities to cater to the fasting crowd. An array of traditional cakes and local eats is sold. The varieties are staggering. These food stalls typically begin their business from 4PM, and remain open until just after the breaking of fast. I'm going to miss it. Well, there's always next year.

For me, Ramadan Bazaars are a testimony of Malaysia's culinary diversity. It is a feast for the eyes and the nostrils. The aroma of roasting meat, the likes of ayam percik, lamb and so forth, will draw you into a state of overindulgence. I was, for the most time, weakened into submission!


Top : The Scene at Ramadan Bazaars. Smoky!
Bottom : Local Cakes and Jellies

From top-left : Cheese Cakes, Local Cakes
Bottom : Murtabak

Top, left to right : Ayam Percik (Grilled Chicken), Satay (Grilled Meat On Sticks)
Bottom : My Food Haul!

Here are some of the kuihs (cakes) I devoured. I've included a short description to give you an idea how each is made. Have you tried any of them?

Kuih Lopes is a traditional Malay cake that is easy to make. This pandan and coconut milk flavoured glutinous rice kuih is eaten with lightly salted fresh grated coconut and palm sugar. Sprinkle the coconut on top of the glutinous rice, with a drizzle of palm sugar.

For a more appealing look, this steamed glutinous rice kuih is usually coated with grated coconut on all sides before serving.

This is a photo of the kuih before it is coated with coconut.

Kuih Lopes With Palm Sugar (the packet with brown liquid), And Coconut Shavings

Kuih Cara Berlauk is a savoury treat that is cooked on the stove. The kuih batter is a blended combination of flour, coconut milk and egg. Turmeric gives it a natural yellow shade, but this is sometimes replaced with artificial colouring.

The kuih mould is heated on the stove and oiled before being filled with batter. The batter is then topped with pre-cooked curried minced meat. It is garnished with fresh coriander and sliced chili before it goes onto the fire again, and is cooked covered.

Pulut Serunding is coconut milk flavoured glutinous rice coated in grated coconut, which has been cooked with several finely pounded ingredients such as onion, garlic, dried shrimps, dried chilli, lemongrass and turmeric. 

Top : Kuih Cara Berlauk
Bottom : Pulut Serunding Kelapa

Tapioca cake is a simple kuih made with shredded tapioca. Coconut milk, eggs, salt and sugar make up the other ingredients. For the brown version of tapioca cake, palm sugar is used instead.

Kuih Tepung Gomak / Kuih Abok-Abok is a glutinous flour cake that is covered in powdery toasted mung bean flour. The filling is a mixture of grated coconut and brown sugar.

Kuih Puteri Ayu is a dainty looking snack. The white part consists of young grated coconut which has been compacted into a small mould to make the top. This is then covered with pandan flavoured cake batter and steamed.

Top - left to right : Palm Sugar Tapioca Cake, Kuih Tepung Gomak
Bottom - left to right : Baked Tapioca Cake, Kuih Puteri Ayu

Kuih Akok
is a coconut milk, palm sugar snack that has an aromatic pandan scent. Only a small amount of flour is included in the mix. Egg is used to bind the ingredients. It is then baked or cooked on the stove.

Kuih Akok

Roti Popiah, as you can see, is not a kuih but I thought it would be interesting enough to share. It is bread slapped together with curried minced meat in between. This is encased in spring roll (popiah) wrapper. Then, it is deep-fried.


Roti Goreng or Roti Popiah

I hope you enjoyed reading about the various kuihs we have in Malaysia.

On behalf of the team at Sweet Home-Chefs, I wish all Muslims ...

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!
May your home be blessed with peace and laughter throughout the year.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chilling With Chilli - Sambal And Simple Smashed Chicken

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So, is it chilli, chili or chile? ....I say chill! It all validly points to the hot pepper vegetable that causes beads of sweat to pour down our temples.

In American English, however, 'chili' largely refers to the stew, chili con carne (Source: Chile, Chili, or Chilli? What's the Correct Spelling?). You know the saying - When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Malaysians generally love a little spiciness in their food. Many restaurants serving rice with meat and vegetable dishes include a small plate of sliced chilli to go along with the meal.

Sambal is another way Malaysians enjoy their chilli. This sauce is traditionally made by pounding chilli together with other ingredients such as onions, garlic and ginger, into a rough paste. The flavour is further enhanced with the addition of shrimp paste, fish sauce or vinegar. It is usually seasoned with salt or sugar and a squeeze of lime juice at the end. It can be eaten raw or cooked. When it comes to sambal, the varieties are endless! 

We enjoy sambal in many ways. It typically accompanies coconut rice (nasi lemak) or plain rice which is served with fried meat, seafood or vegetables, and fresh greens . It is also commonly paired with fried rice and noodles. We sometimes do away with cutlery when having sambal with rice. Eating with hand is the way to go for a tastier experience.

Sambal (Chilli)

I decided to make my own after enjoying a heap with ayam penyet (smashed chicken) at a local food court the other day. The chicken is called smashed chicken for obvious reasons. All the easier to eat when the meat has been flattened apart.

My version of sambal is a quickie, also served with smashed chicken but in the simplest sense without the spices and the work. A great take to satisfy impromptu cravings.

Simple Smashed Chicken

Ingredients:

- 2 whole chicken leg
- 1 thumb ginger (grated)
- Salt and white pepper to taste

How-to:
1) Rub chicken with salt, pepper and grated ginger.
2) Bake in oven, on a foiled baking tray, for about 50 minutes at 180C.
(Cooking time may vary depending on chicken size)
3) Once cooked, place chicken on a clean cutting board and smash once or twice using a cleaver.


1) Bake the chicken
2) Coriander, Chilli, Onions, Garlic
3) Blend the ingredients above
4) Cook in oil

Sambal

Ingredients:
To blend into a rough paste
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 6 red chilli (chopped)
- A handful of chopped coriander
- 1 stalk lemongrass - optional (remove dry/hard outer part and top. sliced.)

~~~~~~~~~~


Chilli paste
- 4 tbsp 3-in-1 cili giling (tamarind and salt flavoured dried chilli paste)
Alternatively:
4 tbsp finely blended rehydrated dried chilli with 1 tsp tamarind paste. (There is no need to add salt here since it can be added during the cooking process.)

- ¼ cup cooking oil or more
- 1 calamondin (halved, for serving)

How-to:

1) Heat oil in pan.
2) Stir-fry blended ingredients for a minute or two. Then, add the flavoured dried chilli paste. Season with salt, if necessary.
3) Continue stirring and cooking for 2-3 minutes. That's all there is to it. 
4) Squeeze calamondin juice over the chilli just before serving.

To eat : Serve smashed chicken with rice along with sambal and some fresh greens like lettuce, cucumber slices or coriander.

Smashed And Ready To Be Eaten!

Sambal And Smashed Chicken

Enjoy!
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies

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It used to be that when I think about cookies, I would envision something with a little crisp somewhere. Over the baking years, I learned that cookies aren't defined by the crunch factor. It can be soft and cake-like too.

This pumpkin cookie recipe that I tried out the other day is just that - a scrumptious mini cake. I found it really addictive. So, if you have a weakness for eating more than you should, I suggest that you invite me over to help reduce the numbers available in your cookie jar. I'm kidding, of course.


Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Click Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies for the recipe, which I found at the Very Best Baking  website.

The changes I made:
1) I replaced 1 cup canned pure pumpkin with the real deal. Steam fresh pumpkin (about 470g gave me just a little over a cup) with skin on, until tender. That took me about 30minutes. Scoop the flesh out and mash. Leave it on a strainer to drip excess liquid away while you collect and mix the rest of the ingredients. Add in as instructed.

2) I went with baking paper, instead of greasing the pan.

3) I baked mine at 165C for 12-13 minutes, just over a baking tbsp size each, which gave me about 44 pieces.

Tip: Don't be too quick to prepare the glaze because it will begin to harden soon enough.

Honestly speaking: It's tasty enough without the glaze, and may even be 'too sweet' for some people. However, I like the sugar glaze because it adds a little crunch on top. On my next attempt, I will work on reducing the sugar in the dough so that I can glaze with abandon.

I only prepared a small amount of glaze for this batch because I didn't want it on all the cookies. My adventure in pictures:


Top-left, clockwise: The 470g pumpkin, spooned steamed pumpkin,
combining the flour, beating wet and dry ingredients together.

Top-left, clockwise: The wet cookie dough, 1 tbsp on baking paper,
bake in pre-heated oven, preparing the sugar glaze

Soft Pumpkin Cookies Fresh Out Of The Oven

The No-glaze Pumpkin Cookie

Taking A Bite!

Nice Bottom!

Have you baked a cake-like cookie before?


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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oven-Baked Balsamic Chicken On Greens And Sweet Potatoes

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The more affordable Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, a commercially processed aged variety that is made from cooked grape must and grape juice vinegar, is a great condiment to have around. I buy the ones labelled 'organic' and rated 2 leaves. I love rubbing it onto meat or vegetables that I intend to grill or roast.

If you're keen to know more about Balsamic Vinegar, this is a great article to start with : http://www.cooksinfo.com/balsamic-vinegar

The flavour is too complex for me to describe accurately but it falls in between sweet and tart.

This is a simple baked chicken recipe, made wholesome and vibrant with greens and sweet potatoes. I enjoy cheerfulness in a dish so it's become a habit to have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in different colour on hand.

Oven-Baked Balsamic Chicken On Green Vegetables

Although the chicken and vegetables were cooked separately, I didn't find it too time consuming. An hour tops, if you don't count the marinating wait. I cooked and baked simultaneously.  By the time the vegetables are done, the chicken is ready to be served, fresh out of the oven!

Oven-Baked Balsamic Chicken with Onions

Oven-Baked Balsamic Chicken

Ingredients:

- 2 whole chicken leg
- 1 medium onion (cut into chunks)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp dried crushed mint leaves

How-to:

1) Marinate chicken leg with ginger, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Leave aside for one hour.

2) Then, mix in dried mint and onions. Place on a foiled baking pan. Keep some leftover marinade for basting.

3) Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes (more or less) at 180c.
Note: Baste quickly on the 20th minute. Baste again on the 30th or 35th minute using the juices from the pan.
Tip:If some spots are browning too quickly,
place a small foil over the area concerned for even browning.

4) Serve on top of vegetable dish (recipe below).

1) Marinate the chicken.
2) Place on a foiled baking fan.
3) Roast for 45 minutes.
4) Serve!

Chinese Amaranth And Sweet Potatoes In Peanut Sauce
Ingredients:
- 250g Chinese amaranth (wash and trim away from main stem)
- 1 can 170g braised peanut
- 1 medium sweet potato / 1½ cup (cut into chunks)
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce or to taste
- ½ tsp tapioca flour (dilute with 1 tbsp water, for thickening)

How-to:

1) Boil sweet potatoes in 1 to 2 cups water until cooked.
2) Add spinach, cover the pan for 30 seconds or so.
3) Once the spinach looks a little limp, pour in the braised peanut. Stir well.
4) Taste and flavour further with oyster sauce if necessary.
5) Once everything is cooked, switch the fire off and stir in the tapioca flour.
6) Serve with baked chicken.

1) Green vegetables, braised peanuts and sweet potatoes.
2) Boil the potatoes, then add the greens.
3) Add braised peanuts. Flavour with oyster sauce.
4) Serve!
 
Oven-Baked Balsamic Chicken On Green Vegetables and Sweet Potatoes

Protein, carbs and greens? It passes for a balanced diet surely!
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