Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vegetarian Chinese Steamed Buns with Bok Choy and Mushrooms 蔬菜包 - Vegan too!

To most Chinese, the reunion dinner is an important Chinese tradition to celebrate the Lunar New Year’s Eve. It is also known as Tuan Nian, translates from Chinese words 團年 which describes the tradition of family gathering at the reunion dinner that concludes the end of the year. Hence, the best foods with auspicious meaning are served in abundance for this meal as we believe that abundance of good food will bring the family great wealth in the new year.

Ironically... After a night of sumptuous feasting, our family including most Buddhist Chinese will observe a vegetarian diet on the first day of Chinese New Year. Why? For all these years, I can't understand this rationale after noticing the drastic contrasts of the before and after Chinese New Year eve feasting! Maybe people are feeling guilty or sinful after digging in excessive food eaten on Chinese New Year eve and need to obtain good karma for the New Year. Hmmm...

These Chinese bok choy and mushroom vegetarian streamed buns are always our all time favourite. I know that my husband and son will love these regardless of all occasions... on the first day of Chinese New Year or even Chinese New Year eve!

We are loving these not because we are guilty of having too much good food before Chinese New Year... We are loving these because these vegetarian steamed buns "got standard"!!! LOL!

vegetarian vegan vegetable Chinese steamed buns bok choy mushrooms
Vegetarian Chinese Steamed Buns with Bok Choy and Mushrooms 蔬菜包

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Homemade Bandung Attap Chee Ice Cream

Although it is cool and raining cool now, yesterday was actually a very hot day!!! Well, you know... Crazy Melbourne weather!!! LOL!

It's dessert time on a hot day and I ask... Anybody want some attap chee ice cream?

Me! I always hear this answer instantly and then I see two salivating faces! LOL!

If you are (1) a Singaporean, (2) a Gen Y or X or earlier and (3) a dessert lover, I'm sure you will know attap chee. Or do you?

According to Wikipedia, nipa palm is commonly known as attap in Singapore. Nipa palm is a species of palm native to the coastlines and estuarine habitats of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its seeds (known as chee in most Chinese dialects) are sweet, translucent, jelly-like and chewy. Hence, attap chee is commonly used as an ingredient in Southeast Asian desserts like ice kachang and chendol.

Remember the days when we used to buy plastic bags of attap chee from wet markets? My grandma would said eeew whenever I asked her to buy a bag of attap chee for me because she reckoned that the way that the markets scooped the gluey attap chee from one large transparent tub into plastic bags was not hygienic at all. However, if the attap chee is part of ice kachang, chedol and ice cream, my grandma thinks that those attap chee are ok! Hmmm... It is sometimes good to live in denial, kind of like "if you don't see, you won't know"! LOL!

Here, there is nothing to hide in our attap seed ice cream! ... as all we see and taste are these attap seeds in this yummy milky creamy ice cream.

bandung attap chee ice cream
Homemade Bandung Attap Chee Ice Cream

Monday, February 1, 2016

Homemade Ice Blended Bandung

"Mum, I didn't know that you can make bandung!" said my son, looking very impressed after he had the first slip of the ice blended bandung that I made for him.

"This is so creamy and yummy!" he added after finishing the last slip of his bandung with a satisfying ahhh...

Bandung? For those who don't know, it is the name of a drink popular in Singapore and Malaysia. This icy cold pink drink is typically made of evaporated milk or condensed milk flavoured with rose cordial syrup which is usually available in pink in Singapore and Malaysia.

Whenever we go to Singapore for our holidays, my son love love love attacking the refreshing and sweet ice cold bandung throughout our entire trips. As we don't drink bandung in Melbourne, I choose to shut one eye and allow my son to indulge with these sweet syrupy drinks. However, I often get reprimanded by husband for buying many cups of bandung and feel guilty after seeing my son's deeply stained extremely bright pink tongue when he finishes his intensively coloured drink.

I hate the thought of consuming too much artificial colouring. Well, it is ok to consume a little colouring sometimes but definitely not excessive... Now that I can make my own bandung with this fantastic recipe, I don't have to worry about consuming bandung with too much pink colouring!

In fact... This bandung is so good that I reckon that any bandung-loving person won't want to drink bandung from the shops anymore!!! It is so good that it will be a shame if I don't share this recipe!!!

homemade ice blended bandung
Homemade Ice Blended Bandung

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Searching for the best Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes / Shortcakes 鳳梨酥

Am I baking MORE pineapple pastry? Yup!


If you know me well enough, you know that I never have enough of pineapple tarts baking...

For this post, I like to search for the best Taiwanese pineapple pastry cakes (tarts or shortcakes) 鳳梨酥 which is rather different from the Singaporean / Malaysian pineapple tarts like these (Nastar style), these (enclosed kind), these and these (open faced kind) that I usually baked for our Chinese New Year. And what are the differences?

The Taiwanese pineapple pastry cakes are typically larger than the Singaporean / Malaysian pineapple tarts and are made in square or rectangle shapes with pineapple jam encased inside.

Whenever I go to Taiwan or any Taiwanese-style bakeries, my son and I like to buy a couple of these famous and popular pineapple pastry cakes to enjoy. All because we simply love the rich crumbly buttery milky pastries filled with a generous portion of sweet chewy pineapple jam.

Milky pastry? I have noticed that all Taiwanese pineapple pastry cakes that I have tried have a distinctively crumbly milky taste. I have noticed too that most Taiwanese pineapple cakes recipes that I have came across contain milk powder. So obvious that the addition of milk powder in pineapple cake pastry is absolutely necessary!

Chewy pineapple jam? I was told by several Taiwanese-style bakeries that the traditional kind of Taiwanese pineapple cakes are made of pineapple jam that is made of winter melon and maltose syrup so that the jam is extra sweet, heavy and sticky. However, due to the change of time, most consumers are becoming more health conscious these days and prefer the less sweet and sticky version of pineapple cakes. Hence, many Taiwanese bakeries are selling pineapple cakes with options now and we always choose to buy the ones with the less sweeter filling. For this reason, we would like to stick to our regular pineapple jam with NO winter melon and maltose syrup at here. Although the pineapple cakes with NO winter melon and maltose that I baked are probably less "traditionally Taiwanese", they are as good as the lighter Taiwanese pineapple pastry cakes that we always prefer to eat.

I'm sure if you Google for "Taiwanese pineapple pastry cakes recipe", there are many to choose and bake but have you asked which is the best?

Based on my Google search, I have narrowed down three recipes to test and compare and they are:

Recipe one from Angel Wong's Kitchen (AW)
This always number one Google recipe hit that comes with a concise Youtube video showing the entire process on how Angel bakes her pineapple cakes and the way she did her baking seems so effortless!

Recipe two from More than Bread (MTB)

Another popular recipe from my Google search. Looking at the recipe closely, it looks rather similar to Angel's recipe but contains less egg and more sugar and I wonder if these differences will make the pastry more delicious.

Recipe three from Anncoo Journal (Ann) / Butter. Flour and Me (Joceline / BFM)

Unlike recipe one and two, Ann and Joceline use egg yolk instead of whole egg to make their pastries but Ann uses honey and Joceline uses condensed milk. So which should I use? Ann's or Joceline's recipe??? Eeny meeny miny moe... I choose Ann's recipe first and like to see how it goes...

How about recipe four?

Originally, I like to try another recipe by Rasa Malaysia which is an in-between of Recipe One and Two (with the addition of whole egg) and adds a little shortening to boost its pastry crumbly texture. After considering the options, I still prefer to try just three of the above recipes first.

Do you want to know which recipe is our favourite?

Taiwanese pineapple pastry tart cakes shortcakes 鳳梨酥
Here, I'm searching for the best Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes / Shortcakes 鳳梨酥 recipe...