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, November 24, 2014

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies


The scene is magical in our large shopping malls. Lights of gold and colourful baubles decorate tall trees. Joyful Christmas songs fill the air. I hear a happy lift in people's chatter. Wide smiles grace glowing faces.

Well, my kitchen feels magical too. At this time of year, I attempt to bake festive treats and it will have nothing to do with chocolate chip cookies! Chocolate chip cookies are what I call 'staple food' in the sweet treats department. Therefore, a festive cookie needs to be something else.    

I try to be different about it, of course. That's how beetroot and parsley made its way into this cookie. The other reason was because I had parsley growing in my garden and I felt that it needed to go somewhere. Haha, I know.

The end result of these adventures, although often pleasing, is no reflection of work in between, which is sometimes laden with dramatic moments of 'why-is-this-happening-to-me'.

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies

As I rolled this cookie dough into shape, I consoled myself with an, "It's going to be alright, Hun. You've got this! "

This cookie dough is soft and a little sticky. It requires refrigeration for easy handling. As the weather was humid, I had to work quickly and was constantly on my feet, putting the dough in and out of the refrigerator, because I was baking in batches.

It's a recipe I adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Cookies book, which was originally for choc and cranberry checkerboards. I did away with four of the ingredients and a couple of steps, then added what I thought should be in there.

Anyway, off one went into the oven. A test. It turned out really great. So, I proceeded to bake the entire batch.

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies Fresh Out Of The Oven!
Beetroot and Parsley Cookies (About 30 pcs)

- 200g softened butter
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- ½ tsp artificial vanilla flavour (bottled liquid)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups plain flour (sift)
- 1 tsp finely chopped beetroot
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (curly-leaf)


1) Using an electric mixer, beat all these ingredients together - butter, sugar, vanilla and egg, until light and fluffy.

2) Stir half the flour in. Keep stirring until all of it has been incorporated into the batter. Then, stir the other half in.

3) Divide the dough into half. Add parsley into one, and beetroot into the other. Knead until it is evenly spread.

4) Transfer this onto baking paper. Fold the baking paper up and shape the dough into a long bar. Then, refrigerate covered in the same baking paper until it's easy to slice - about 45 minutes for me.

5) Work quickly, slice the chilled bar lengthways. I did this on a cutting board lined with baking paper. Clean the knife after every slice. This is NOT the fun part.

The dough was a little sticky so I shaped it using the baking paper it was already in.

Do the checkerboard design - Slice 6 thin strips from each bar. Stack 3 from each together in alternate layers to make a bar. Then, give the whole 'thing' a little twist and gently press and roll to combine, making it into a round bar (like in the pictures). Do the same for the the remainder of the strips...or do something else.

Then, wrap it up again and chill until it's easy to manage again. Now you will have two round bars of pretty pink and green dough in a distorted checkerboard design.

6) Line the tray with baking paper. Take one of the now combined dough out of the fridge. Cut into just under 1 cm slices and arrange on the tray for baking. The cookie will spread a little, so give it some space.

7) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C for about 10 minutes (or until the edges brown a little). Let it stand on the baking tray for about 5 minutes before transferring onto wire racks to cool.

This temp and timing suits my oven best. Always do the bake test!

Continue doing 6) and 7) until all the dough is finished.

How-to 1 to 3 in pictures with Red Beetroot and Green Parsley

1) Take the chilled dough out. 2) Slice lengthways and arrange in alternate flavours.
3) Chill again, then slice. 4) Place on baking paper and bake!

1) The cookie begins to spread in the oven. 2) The edges are brown, it's done!
3) The back of my cookie. 4) The pretty pastel front!

Texture-wise, this is neither crunchy nor soft, something in-between. It smells like vanilla - devoid of parsley scent.

Beetroot and Parsley Cookies Cooling On The Wire Rack

This is sweet but not overly. I packed 10 pieces for my guy to bring to the office. He came home empty handed with an uh-oh for eating too much. Yep, he rated this as one of the best cookies I've ever made. I had to laugh. I guess all the work was worth it after all!

One Beetroot and Parsley Cookie

Biting into a Beetroot and Parsley Cookie!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Coconut Prawn Curry

Home cooking as it is - I can pick up a cookery book intending to follow a recipe to the dot, but very much end up with something completely different when I'm done.

For me, it's a tug of war between buying too many little ingredients and using what I already have on hand. Most times, I go with the latter and get a feel of what the taste buds are telling me for the day. Sensible me!

This dish is a modified version of Chef Wan's Otak-Otak Makanan Laut (Seafood Otak-Otak) which I picked out from the recipe book 400 Resipi Terbaik Chef Wan. Chef Wan is the Food Ambassador of Malaysia. He is an amazing source of inspiration to me when it comes to cooking local food. A ton of spices, ingredients .... he doesn't cut corners! There are no shortcuts in his recipes.There are, however, in mine.

In short, I had set out to emulate a great Chef but ended up being 'just plain old me' - the home cook who's cautious about having too many food ingredients lying around. I say haha to that!

So, this is my version of a spicy coconut delight.

Coconut Prawn Curry

It's strongly flavoured. I say this because the tom yum paste that I have used for this recipe is packed with taste. Best eaten with plain rice!

Coconut Prawn Curry
- 1 young coconut (clean, save the coconut water and spoon out flesh, keep aside)
- 320g medium prawns (cleaned)
- 15 to 20 sweet basil leaves (chopped)
- 3 dried kaffir lime leaves (leaf stems removed, crushed)
- 1 limau nipis/key lime
- 1 red chilli (sliced)
- 1 tbsp blended dried red chilli
- 1 tbsp tom yum paste or to taste (bottled variety)
- 1 tbsp curry powder (mix a bit of water in, into a thick paste)
- 1 tsp kerisik (toasted coconut paste)
- ¼ tsp brown sugar
- 1 to 2 tbsp cooking oil
- Water, if necessary

1) Heat oil in pan. Saute tom yum paste. Once browned, add curry powder and blended chilli. Stir quickly.

2) Add toasted coconut paste, sweet basil and kaffir lime leaves. Squeeze lime juice in and add brown sugar. Stir well, allow it to cook for a bit. Then, add coconut water. (Add water only if you want more gravy or find the flavour too strong.)

3) When the water begins to simmer, stir the prawns and red chilli into the mix.

4) Once the prawns are cooked, switch the heat off and gently stir the coconut flesh in.

1) Gathering the ingredients. 2) Spooning out the coconut flesh.
3) Yummy coconut flesh that's begging to be eaten.
4) Deveined prawns, with head and tail left on.

1) Saute tom yum paste. 2) Added the flavouring, now for the prawns.
3) Adding the chilli. 4) After everything is cooked, stir the coconut flesh in.

I served this in the coconut shell but could not fit it all in. The remainder went directly onto my plate of rice!

Coconut Prawn Curry And Rice!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shiitake Mushroom Salad


Christmas is just over a month away. Is anyone else feeling the joyous mood that comes with? I'm looking forward to munching festive cookies and cakes ..and oh, the creative food decorations. 'Tis the season sweet-toothed souls have been waiting for!

This post isn't about a sugary treat, unfortunately. It's got to do with dried shiitake mushrooms. Usually, I'd put these into a braised soy sauce dish. This time, however, it's going into a healthy salad.

Shiitake Mushroom and Roasted Chilli in a Salad

Two medium bowls, for this portion.

Shiitake Mushroom Salad

- 5 rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms (stems removed, sliced thinly)
- 1 medium-large red onion (sliced)
- 8 to 10 baby butterhead lettuce leaves (tear/cut into smaller pieces)
- 1 red chilli (halved)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1½ tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 to 2 tbsp cooking oil

1) Brush red chilli with cooking oil and roast in the oven until lightly charred, about 10 minutes at 180C. Let it cool, then gently slice it into thin strips.

2) Toast sesame seeds in the oven or on the stove in a pan, until lightly browned. Set aside for later use. 

3) Heat oil in pan. Saute onions until lightly browned.

4) Add rehydrated mushrooms and oyster sauce. Stir until cooked, making sure that all the ingredients are well coated with the sauce. Then, set aside and let it cool a little.

5) Except for the sesame seeds, place all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

6) Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds on top.

Top, left to right: Preparing the ingredients. Roasted chilli.
Bottom, left to right : Saute onions, mushroom with oyster sauce. To assemble. 

Ready to toss!

The smoky taste from the roasted chilli was really something I looked forward to in each bite. Aah, but I do love chilli in a lot of my cooking. Oyster sauce is always flavourful so eating it with fresh greens makes this a good match.

Sauteed Shiitake Mushroom Salad


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