food, Malay, Singapore

My Hari Raya or Eid

After fasting for a month, Muslims around the world celebrate this victory of the physical, spiritual and mental self with a few days of celebration called Eid. Or in this part of the world I’m from, Hari Raya – literally Day of Celebration.

However, the mood is sombre with what’s happening over in Gaza and here in our tiny island. We entered a phase of Heightened Alert so on Hari Raya we were only allowed 5 visitors to the home, but could visit two other homes. Naturally for me, it was a visit to the mothers’ but for some of my friends who have more than 5 people in their household, they stayed home. 😦

Let me share how Hari Raya is celebrated in my family. Which is pretty much how many Malays here would celebrate it.

In Singapore and Malaysia, cookies is a must and a staple on the table. When we receive guests, they sit around the table and are served cookies. Mind you, these cookies are never huge Subway kinds! Many times, they are dainty bite-sized pieces and they come in a variety of colours and flavours. I’ve shared a couple I think on this blog site, the latest being the Dahlia cookies. Slowly, when I roll into semi-retirement mode, I’ll make more cookie types and share them. 🙂

Growing up, a staple Raya cookie is the Kuih Tart or Pineapple Tarts which my mom would make yearly. My family’s version is an open faced tart instead of the balled versions. I have shared the recipe here.

Another family staple is Biskut Gajus (cashewnuts cookies), Macaroons (not the French type) and chocolate chip cookies. Alas, my mother is getting too old to be making Raya cookies so I usually buy them from others or try making one or two types if time permits.

These cookies are placed in pretty canisters of choice. Pyrex is the classic but lately, Pyrex does not make pretty canisters anymore so I have been using these pink ones I have since more than a decade ago.

Let me show how it’s like in pictures.

I have exactly six pink canisters, and luckily for me this year, I have exactly six types of cookies. 😂
We line these canisters with paper doilies. All these I learn of course from my mom and aunts. And when I married, I learnt that my mom in law does the exact same thing. It’s tradition I guess for many. It protects the canisters from the grease.
Fill the canisters to the brim with cookies. Because they look very pretty when filled. These are pineapple tarts, the filled ones which I bought online.
I just love my pink canisters! 6 different types of cookies, two which I made myself 😆
And then what we do is we place them on a table. I have two larger canisters filled with nuts. One was spiced coated cashewnuts and the other spiced peanuts.
Hope you have a rough idea how it’s celebrated here. Sitting around a table full of cookies and crunchy savouries and making small talk. This year, only my brother came with his family because the next thing we knew, the restrictions from 5 was reduced to 2! And that was the end of everything 😂

I must say I really do miss my celebrations not only pre-COVID but also pre-marriage days! Or rather pre-teen kids as now they feel theyare too old to celebrate with us days! 😂 It’s fun when you’re a kid, playing with cousins and eating tons of cookies without gaining a pound but that’s life. Maybe one day it’ll be fun again with grandkids? Oh my goodness! Hopefully that’ll be another 15 years from now! 🤣

Cakes and Cookies, Desserts

Biskut Dahlia (Malay Butter Cookies)

Eid is round the corner. And so I decided to bake another cookie I havent tried. These Malaysian cookies called Dahlia are so easy to make but I had such a horrible time pumping the dough out. They are beautiful, though and melt in your mouth.

I followed popular Malaysian YouTube Che’ Nom for this recipe, but I think I might try other recipes. Though they turn out soft, they were too soft and powdery in my mouth. But they do look so gorgeous and I am sure, look pretty in my pink Pyrex canister. Even though I have no idea who will be visiting me this year, given the stringent measures here we have to eliminate COVID.

The ingredients are so easy. 250g softened butter, 1 cup of corn flour, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 cup of custard powder, 1 egg yolk, and 2 cups of plain flour. Actually, for the flour the advice was not to add all in but to eyeball how much you need to form a soft dough.

So after mixing the ingredients above, this was my soft dough. It was a beautiful dough.

This was the device I bought for ‘beginners’. One can use a star nozzle and a piping bag but that apparently takes practice. But this was not easy either! Obviously, I am a novice when it comes to all things cookies.
The device is so small, that after three pumps, we had to refill it with dough. And this recipe, as with other recipes for this cookie I am sure, produces few cookies. For this recipe, we got 79 cookies exactly.
The chocolate chip center makes it so pretty!
The flower petals stay intact!
Ready to be bottled and filled in the pink canisters next week!

Check out my Eid/Raya table next week when I fill my canisters with cookies, crackers, nuts and more! Who’s coming over to my house, now? lol. Die, pandemic, die. I curse you for ruining my Eid for two years in a row.

Poultry, Snack, Western

Quick and Easy Creamy Chicken Mini Pies

I’m a working mom. Yes, I do have a helper but that doesn’t mean the helper does everything so I do my bit too. So often, I find myself in the kitchen trying something new for the family to try.

Growing up, my mother used to make for us chicken pies. From scratch, mind you. She’ll make the pastry herself and the filling and voila! As little kids, all we had to do was pop one in the mouth. Ok, several mouthfuls. They were delicious and something my brother and I always looked forward to.

But, like I said, I’m working a full time job. But I do want to make pies. So I found an easy way and that’s to use ready rolled shortcrust pastries. Just cut them into rounds, place on a muffin tray, add the filling, brush the tops with and egg wash and then done! In the oven they go.

I like this brand because it’s vegan. And the slight
saltiness is perfect!
Spray muffin tray with olive oil spray can, add the pastry, filling and top it with a small disc of the pastry.
My filling is super easy. 500g of chicken breasts, cubed and seasoned with Korean seasoning of salt and pepper (I love to use theirs but regular salt and pepper will do), cubed potatoes and peas. I seasoned the mixture after frying garlic in olive oil and adding the chicken and potatoes with a teaspoon of curry powder and three teaspoons of sweet smoked paprika. Then add the peas and finally 200g of cooking cream. Then because I had a whole bunch of frozen basil, I chopped them up and put inside the mixture. Cook till reduced.
The cooked ready to be filled creamy chicken potato and peas filling.
Prick the tops with a fork and the. Brush with egg wash. Bake in oven at 190 degree Celsius till brown.
Yummy chicken pies!! They’re rustic looking!
Beautiful to look at and delicious eaten hot!

If a busy working mom can do this in less than an hour, so can you! 😆

Desserts

No Bake Chocolate Tart

A simple tart, I followed this recipe but I realised some part didn’t work. The Oreo chocolate was fine but the 450g to 100ml cream ratio didn’t work for my chocolate pellets. No matter because cream comes in 200g packets here so I had extra to ensure my chocolate filling turned out smooth and luscious.

Using the bain Marie method with more cream added.
Filling the chocolate ganache over the chilled cookie crust base.
Decorated it with fruits just like the website but sprinkled coarse good quality seasalt once the tart has been chilled.
A delicious decadent rich dessert. Perfect for breaking fast.
Meat, Western

Beef Cheeks Burger

My first time ever cooking beef cheeks! I had seen this at the premium butcher and decided to try it. Beef cheeks takes an extremely long time to cook, but when it’s done, it’s so soft and gelatinous. Well, not that gelatinous, but definitely it doesn’t have the firm meaty texture of regular cuts of beef.

I decided to just cook them simply. My supermarket ran out of non-alcoholic red wine so what I did was to first sear the beef cheek, and then in my cast iron enamel pot, simmer it with a whole bottle of passata, chicken stock, lots of rosemary sprigs, garlic, a dash of Maggi seasoning (or Worcestershire sauce), salt. Because this took almost three hours to cook! The resulting sauce was soooooo sweet! But like I swore to my mom who had come to visit that night, I did not add any sugar! The sweetness really came from the hours of simmering, rendering the tomato passata sweet naturally.

The next day, I turned the beef cheeks into a burger. It was the bomb! Soft buttered toasted buns, alfalfa sprouts, baby spinach leaves, beef cheeks and slather some of its sauce over.

I doubt I’ll be making this again not because it’s not delicious, but nobody in the family liked the soft gelatinous texture of beef cheeks. Oh, well. At least I enjoyed my cheeks!