Christmas Treats: Mincemeat Pie & Peanut Butter Ball

A celebration never be complete with some sweet treats, whether you’re having it yourself or give as gift, and I got those covered at Christmas with mincemeat pie and peanut butter ball.

If you watched Nigella Christmas Kitchen, I’ll bet you came across with these two recipes, and mincemeat is truly a traditional tart during Christmas. First heard of  its name, I had the concept that this is made with meat, in fact originally it did contain meat, but it evolved to have apple and dried fruit today. I followed the recipe entirely from Nigella’s, which used fresh cranberry instead of grated apple, and you’ll get this christmacy ruby-red mincemeat, which looks really attractive. I know mine tart wouldn’t sell good because of its look, I didn’t have the wavy nor star cutter, but it tastes real good.

I made this peanut butter ball as food present for my friends, it actually identical with peanut butter cup, the thing that differs is the shape. After completed the base, rolled into small bite size ball, and stash in the fridge to firm up. Melted the milk and dark chocolate, and it is important to keep the chocolate mixture runny, or it will be a bit tedious if the harden chocolate keeps pulling the soft peanut butter ball. Cover ball with chocolate, carefully spoon up or pick up with a toothpick, let excess chocolate to drip off, and sprinkle over the decoration of your choice. You can put whatever you like around the chocolate surface, mine had peanuts, chocolate rice and little colorful sprinkles.

Actually this peanut butter ball was supposed to give to my friends at the party, due to inefficient scheduling, but it will be my perfect New Year gift, together with my chocolate cookie.

Peanut butter ball:

  • 1/3 cup of peanut butter (I used chunky)
  • 50 g of butter,
  • 3/4 cup of icing sugar

After Christmas

As promised, here is what I had in my party. Unfortunately, there aren’t any picture provided with the food, I’m too busy serving food and guest at the time, only this aftermath scene got pick.

I made 5 food in total, my friend brought 2 salads: chicken kebab, which is marinaded with lemon and thyme, and bake in the oven skewer with pepper, leek and onion; roasted potatoes, it was roasted at first, but at last minute I fried it because I didn’t have time anymore, together with fried onion ring with beer batter. For dip, I had this dhal thadka, lentil cooked with plenty of spices, with tortilla chip; and last but no least the dessert, Chocolate-crusted Pandan Panna Cotta with toffee sauce and cranberry glaze. It sounds splendid does it? However it doesn’t come out the way I thought it will be, you will be imagining that it got this wonderful layers in it, but it don’t, just this lump of melted cream thing, because I didn’t add the gelatin. A total let down. Not forgetting my signature drink, I called it White Christmas ;p, soda with lemon and lime juice, syrup, garnished with mint leave.

But actually, it’s not that bad, at least my friends had fun, I think. The point is, I’m really enjoying the process of making the food, it’s just I had this underlying unconscious of trying recipe that I’m not really mastered, you know, to impress my guests. It is a no-no thing to do at a party, you will end up wasting a lot of time, and panicking at very last-minute. Well, all this was preparing myself in party planning, so that when I have my own house later, I could throw any amazing party with easy breeze.

Anyway, to amend the lack of photography in this post, I had made Christmas chocolate cookie with peanut and drink to share. The drink is Chai tea, an Indian spiced milk tea, which is very popular now. I made a twist with my version, by adding coffee in it, sort of Hong Kong style coffee and tea.

And my Christmas doesn’t stop here, because I got more recipe coming. At New Year, I’m going to roast a chicken for my family, from Jamie Family Christmas, and made mincemeat pie, mulled wine…

 

Happy Holiday

So, this coming Saturday is Christmas, after Winter Solstice (it’s a day when every Chinese have this tang yuan, dumpling made with glutinous rice), I’ve been busy scheduling for my party. Yes, I’m holding my own Christmas party, well, not something to brag about, but certainly I’m getting excited for it, after all this is my first ever self-organized party.

It is just a simple finger food and cocktail party, I’ll give details on my next post, hopefully, everything will go all right. I can’t explain, why I love Christmas so much, maybe it because I watched too many Christmas movie when I was little; or perhaps until recently, I love it because of the festive food.

Either way, it is a great opportunity or should I say an excuse, to have friends and family gather at this time of year, though we didn’t celebrate it traditionally, yet we should hold on to the meaning of this celebration. Happy Christmas, everyone!

Pasta with Meatball

Pasta with meatball is all time favorite Italian dish, and I have to say this is by far the best spaghetti recipe I tried. This recipe is entirely emulation from Nigella Bites ” Rainy Day”, the only thing is I didn’t make the pasta, I mean I’m not that spirited enough to make my own, and I changed the ingredients for the meatball to turn it into more oriental version, since I haven’t got all the stuff required in the original recipe.

For pork meatball:

  • 75g of minced pork,
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 1 cracker, bash into fine crumb
  • 1 tbsp of corn flour
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • few drops of sesame oil

Mix everything in a bowl with your hand, and stash in the fridge while you prepare the sauce.

For tomato sauce:

  • 1 stick of celery,
  • half an onion,
  • 2 clove of garlic,
  • 2 tsp of dried oregano,
  • 1 small can of tomato purée,
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • knob of butter,
  • milk

Start by crushing celery, onion, garlic, and oregano in a blender. In a saucepan, sauté the vegetable mush with couple tablespoons of oil. No need to brown them, after 2 minutes, pour in the purée and tomato, and thin the mixture with 2 cups of water. While waiting the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, cook the pasta alongside.

So after that, you can roll the meatball out, and drop gently into the sauce to cook for another 6-8 minutes, depends on the size of the meatball. Before it is served, pour in some milk, turn off the heat, and adds in the butter. I like to add in the end, because this make the sauce glossy and thicker. To serve, just ladle the tomato sauce over the pasta, you can add parmesan or parsley to your liking.

 

Fried Chicken Chop & Lettuce Tomato Salad

This dish is my adaptation of recipe I saw on book and TV, you may guess where I got the inspiration from. The idea for chicken chop came from a lovely French food, called cordon bleu. Basically I think it is a French version of chicken chop, only there’s ham and cheese slid between the chicken breast, and covers with crunchy breadcrump coat. The salad on the other hand, is from Nigella Feast, but the original was Spinach and Tomato salad, since I can’t find the exact spinach near my town, I just swap with gem lettuce instead.

For chicken marinade:

  • 3/4 cup of plain yogurt,
  • 1/4 tsp of salt,
  • 1 tbsp oil,
  • 1/2 tsp of garam masala,
  • sprinkle of black pepper

I used 2 chicken breast here, what I do to them is, I slice in the middle so I can open it like a butterfly wing. You can skip the marinade part if you want to, I think this really tenderize the meat, and you can used the yogurt on surface to stick with the breadcrump, but it does goes messy afterward because you had to place the cheese and ham inside.

After the chicken was all coated with breadcrump, then it is ready to be fry. I have to say frying work is one thing I doesn’t master well in the kitchen, especially with large portion food, I couldn’t tell whether it properly cook inside, and I have the tendency of burning my food. The recipe mentioned 5 minutes on each side, but I think it best to go by eye, if you found it undercook after, just shove to the oven to continue cooking.

For salad:

  • half of gem lettuce, shredded
  • 2 small tomatoes, seeded and cut into thin slices
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp of oil
  • half small lime juice
  • and black pepper

This is pretty much an assemble job, tossing everything together in a bowl. It always wise to do the salad after the chicken, to let the chicken to cool down a little, and avoid the lettuce from getting completely wilt.

 

Back to Business

With holiday edging closer, this mean I’m going to spend most of my day staring at computer screen, but what’s more, more time in the kitchen too! This is my self-reward period after all the hardworks in campus (;p), I couldn’t think of any better way, other than cooking favorite food to treat myself and my family.

Happen to say that, I haven’t made any plan of what I’m going to cook, often I just goes with the flow. It’s pointless to pick at recipe that uses in-season ingredients, I don’t think they will come in handy in my place, where I have to drive faraway to another town to get those fancy stuff. So, I guess I’m gonna to cook food that is closer to me, or anything that comes with.

In this post, I shared one of my favorite breakfast of all time: Kaya Toast with Soft-boiled Eggs, from NoobCook. What is so great about this recipe is that, not only it tastes fabulous, but this is my childhood memory; where when I’m little, my grandfather brings me to our village’s kopitiam (coffee-shop) on Sunday morning, and I always order this for my breakfast.

It does took experience to cook a perfect soft-boiled egg, I get easily frustrated all morning if the egg is overcook or underdone. I say, if you are using a small egg, it will cook around 4-5 min, larger ones can take up to 6-7 min; sometimes I look at the surface airhole, if it stops coming out with tiny bubble, then it is ready. Not that this is completely accurate, you got to try do it yourself to get your own liking.

And of course the compliment to this, is some kaya and butter toast. Recently I like to have slice of butter on the toast, rather than spreading all over, where you can bite through smooth cold butter. The absolute gorgeous moment when eating this, is when breaking the yolk, where it mixes with the runny white to form this golden pond, and you dipped the bread inside…total heaven.

They say a perfect day starts with a perfect morning, for me, a perfect breakfast, and this eggs and toast completely define it all.

Lemon Marble Cupcake

I always find reason to make cupcake, I enjoy every process of making it, and of course eating them. But most importantly, I’m always exploring new idea every times I bake them, and I found lemon-flavored dessert appears to be superbly addictive to me recently. The lemon zest not only makes cake tastes fresher, but also balancing the sweetness within.

Ingredient:

  • 100g of soft butter,
  • 1/2 cup of castor sugar,
  • zest of one lemon,
  • 2 eggs,
  • juice of half a lemon,
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour,
  • 1 tsp of baking soda,
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tbs of cocoa powder

First, beat butter and sugar till pale and fluffy, it will take about 3-4 minutes. Add the lemon zest, and beat in the egg one at a time, making sure it is beaten well in each addition. Pour in lemon juice, stir well.

Sift in all the dry ingredients, except the cocoa. One crucial thing to remember here is, once the rising agents hit the acid, it will start to bubble up, therefore you should not let the batter sit around too long, or the cupcake won’t rise.

Divide the lovely lemon scented mixture into half, in one half, fold in the cocoa powder. Now, simply spoon the mixture into muffin paper, in one side is the lemon, the other is chocolate. Use a toothpick or skewer, swirl the batter when you got this wonderful looking marble texture. The batter makes 12 cupcake, and it bakes in 180C for 20 min.

I always got the habit of filling the paper half way up, which afterward I realized I shouldn’t have done that, because it answers to my hard cake surface, do not fret, the mixture will risen perfectly.