*sweep away the cobwebs on this site*
Gosh, I’d been neglecting my blogs.
Being busy is one, feeling sluggish is another one. Every night, when I get the kids ready for bed, I too feel like hitting the sack together with them. I’m still trying to get used to the school routine, and all the homework coaching.

I really have to buck up. Back to a recipe I wanted to share, another savoury biscuit.

Salt & Sesame Biscuits

When I saw this recipe, I thought I had to try it. Sesame + savoury, should be good. I have this thing about sesame, especially black sesame. So far I’d already posted 2 recipes using black sesame as the main ingredient, and then this one, it shows you how much I like black sesame.

♥Recipe for Salt & Sesame Biscuits♥
Adapted from 在家亲手烤饼干by中村佳瑞子
Make 20 pieces

You’ll need :
50g unsalted butter (leave butter out until it gets to room temparature, i.e. soft to the touch)
1/2 tsp salt (recipe calls for 3/4 tsp but it was a bit on the salty side, so I think 1/2 should be better)
2 tbs milk
20g black sesame
100g low protein or cake flour

Method :

1. Preheat oven to 180C

2. Mix butter with soft and beat until soft and fluffy. (I used a hand whisk)

3. Whisk in the milk a little at a time until well corporated.

4. Add in black sesame, and mix well with a spatula

5. Stir in the sifted flour

6. Roll the dough out to about 6cm x 2cm block. Wrap it in cling wrap, and leave in the fridge for 30minutes.

7. Cut the dough to about 5mm pieces. Place them on a baking sheet.

8. Bake for 15 to 18mins.

Salt & Sesame Biscuits

Unfortunately, sesame is not my daugthers’ cup of tea, so it was only the hubs and I who ate them. Less man more share, I don’t mind actually.

February

21

Cheese Sticks

I made these for Chinese New Year, and my eldest absolutely loved it. She told me these are like home made Cheezles, very healthy. Ha.

Cheese Sticks

We all know using best ingredients is key to baking, but sometimes, we just thought.. what if??

That’s what I did this round. The first batch I baked, I used parmessan cheese in a block. It cost about RM30 for a 200g block, very expensive. Then the 2nd time, I thought, what if I used powdered parmessan, which is RM20 for 500g. More than half the savings!

The first batch, my daugthers snapped them up in no time. The 2nd batch, well, lets just say there are still some left over from Chinese New Year. o.O” The photos taken here are all from the first batch, the 2nd batch has a slightly darkish colour, as though it’s slightly burnt.

Anyway, here is the recipe. If you could, use the good parmessan, that way, you can really taste the fragrant of the cheese.

Cheese Sticks

♥Recipe for Cheese Sticks♥
Adapted from 在家亲手烤饼干by中村佳瑞子
Make 30 pieces

You’ll Need
100g unsalted butter (soft to the touch)
20g castor sugar
1 egg (room temparature)
60g parmessan cheese (use the ones in a block and grate yourself if you can)
160g low protein flour sifted

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C.

2. Beat butter until soft and fluffy (I used a hand whisk).

3. Add it sugar and further beat until well mixed and mixture becomes pale.

4. Add in the egg, and beat until well corporated

5. Using a spatula, mix in the parmessan cheese, and then stir in the flour.

6. Wrap the dough in cling wrap, and leave in the fridge for 30minutes.

7. Cut or roll the out the dough into desired strips. Place strips on a baking sheet.

8. Bake for 15 to 18mins.
Cheese Sticks

With the lack of posting, it seems as though I’d not done any thing for Chinese New Year.
The truth it, the hubs has been away almost whole of January, and I did most of my baking very much later.

It’s been a busy month, to get used to new school routine; to manage without the hubs and doing all the Chinese New Year preparation and shopping almost all on my own. I still managed to get gift boxes made for neighbours and teachers with 2 or 3 varieties of home baked goodies.

The first gift box was given to my eldest daughter’s class teacher (no, I didn’t give her an Ang Pow or red packet, a question raised in FB).
Chinese New Year Gift Box

Every year for Chinese New Year, I’ll be baking chocolate chip cookies. This is my girls’ favourite.
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My own favourite is the Almond Tiles cookies.
Almond Tile Cookies

Light and crunchy, it can be quite addictive.
Almond Tile Cookies

Then another favourite amongst the family member is the Sugee Cake.
Sugee Cake

The cake keeps well in the fridge, so I make this in advance, to be given to each of my family members.
Sugee Cake

I tried to make some sugar / butter biscuit too, but this time, using a biscuit press instead of a cutter. It’s so much easier, and quicker to get this done.
Sugar Biscuit

Sugar BiscuitMy children like them so much they were finished before the Chinese New Year.

It sure looks like I like to stick to recipes I’m familiar with.

There are 2 more new recipes for savoury biscuits that I tried, which I rather like the outcome, will be sharing the recipe next.

It’s almost end of January now, life is getting slightly busier because my eldest has started Standard 1, and there are more activities and classes that both the children have to attend (and I have to chauffer them to class, and accompanied them in some of their classes).

These were orders that I took in December last year, I was supposed to post these earlier, but….

Anyway, this is just for the record.

Ping Yee who reads my blog, asked if I could bake her daughter’s 4th birthday cupcakes and biscuits as party favours.

The Theme of the party is flower, and she wanted something simple.

These decorated flower biscuits are for the party favours.
Flower Biscuit

Flower Biscuit

Flower Biscuit

And this is Xin Ning’s flower theme birthday cupcakes.
Flower theme cupcakes

Flower theme cupcakes

Flower theme cupcakes

Flower theme cupcakes

Then there’s Ju, the very first person who ordered cupcake for me, asked for simple cupcakes topped with M&Ms.
Cupcakes topped with M&Ms

The Principal from the children’s kindergarten, likes the taste of their birthday cupcakes; so she ordered 50 simple ones (just butter cream with sprinkles) from me for the teachers on last day of school, as a token of appreciation for the hard work the teachers have put in for the school concert.
Cupcake with sprinkles

Cupcake with sprinkles

Cupcake with sprinkles

And for the neighbours, I baked more Christmas tree cookies to be distributed on Christmas eve, while the children happily exchanged presents.
Christmas Tree Cookies

Christmas Tree Cookies

If we eat in on Sundays, dinner is always something simple.

I’d always liked the Pasta that is served in Pasta Zanmai, which has strong Japanese flavour, so I was very happy when I saw this recipe of black sesame sauce for pasta, which was written by a Japanese author.

Pasta with Black Sesame Sauce

Here is something which you can try making at home, and it’s rather easy too.

♥Recipe for Black Sesame Sauce For Pasta♥
Adapted from Black Vegetable (幸福黑蔬菜 by 館野鏡子)
Make sauce enough for 2 portion of pasta

Ingredient for Sesame Pasta

You’ll need
2 tbs of ground black sesame
1 pack of Maitake Mushroom (舞菇) – I couldn’t find this, so I just used Shitake instead
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
4 tbs of cream – For health reason, I used only 2 tbs
3 tbs of milk
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method
1) Slice the mushroom (if you are using Maitake, cut off the roots, and cut them into bite size)

2) Prepare the pasta (here I’d used spagetti) according to the instructions on the package

3) Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan, fry garlic until fragrant. Add in the mushroom and stir fry until mushroom is cooked. Add in milk, cream, sesame powder, stir for a while, and then add in salt and pepper to taste.

4) Stir sauce into cooked pasta, and served

Pasta with Black Sesame Sauce

Although it’s on the dry side (probably because I used less cream and the mushroom is not juicy), I love it. I’ll try to use Maitake mushroom the next time.

Dried Shrimp Sambal / Sambal Hae Bee

I remember my maternal grandma used to make really good Sambal Hae Bee or Sambal dried shrimp. It’s a sambal that goes well with almost anything, fish, chicken, vegetables either as a condiment or used it as an ingredient for cooking the dish. Served with plain rice or sprinkled on a bowl of instant noodle, it immediately adds a kick.

My maternal grandma passed away before I could learn how to make the dish from her. My mother in law makes this as well, but she being Cantonese, it tastes a little different from my maternal grandma’s, her version is wetter, and less spicy.

I learn from my mother-in-law the main ingredients, and the process, and came out with my own version which is closer to my maternal grandma’s.

Dried Shrimp Sambal / Sambal Hae Bee

♥Recipe for Dried Prawn Sambal / Sambal Hae Bee♥
Serves 8 for a meal, or produce enough to fill up two (jam) bottles

You’ll need

250g shallot pounded or minced (I actually bought the pounded fresh shallots from the spice shop)
250g chilli pounded or minced (again, I got the pounded fresh chilli from the spice shop)
150g dried prawns
1 pc belacan or prawn paste (optional)
2 tbs sugar (or more depending on your taste)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (if you are health concious, you can reduce the oil, but the frying may get a little more difficult)

Method

1) Rinse dried shrimp under running water to clean, then soak for 30mins. After that, pound them using mortal and pestle. The sambal taste better when the shrimp is pounded. You can still use a blender, but mincing them in a blender, the shrimps are slice to small pieces so the texture is a little different.

2) Toast the piece of belacan/shrimp paste over the stove or pan until fragrant, then crush them into powder.

3) Heat oil in wok. Pour in minced shallot and chilli and fry (stirring frequently) until fragrant. Add in belacan/shrimp paste and the dried shrimp and fry some more.

4) If you are like me, who prefers the sambal to be dryer, hence keeps better, you’ll need to stir and fry the mixture for about 30minutes (you can stop earlier, but the sambal will be on the wetter side). This is the toughest part. After 10 mintutes, I find my right arm began to shake, and by 20 minutes, it feels as though my arm is no longer mine. :( I normally take turns with my helper to do this bit.

5) Add in sugar and stir fry until well mixed. Add in salt or more sugar if you want.

6) Scoop out sambal to a plate. If you are bottling them (which I did with mine), wait till it’s fully cooled before puting them in the sterilised bottle. It will keep for a month refrigerated.

Serves as condiment, a main dish, or as ’spice’ to add into any cooking.

Dried Shrimp Sambal / Sambal Hae Bee

My eldest and youngest daughters celebrated their birthdays respectively in November and December.

I made some cupcakes for a joint celebration in their school. I had the cupcake deisgn drawn up, and got approval from both of them. They wanted some kind of ‘lollipop’ toppers. Initially, they wanted lollipop biscuit as toppers, but that will be too time consuming for me to make, so instead, I use fondant.

Here are the cupcakes I made for their joint birthday celebration.

Girls' cupcake for joint birthday celebration in school

Girls' cupcake for joint birthday celebration in school

Girls' cupcake for joint birthday celebration in school

Girls' cupcake for joint birthday celebration in school

On my eldest actual birthday, more cupcakes were made. I was too lazy to think of a new design so I copied the butterfly theme instead.

My eldest's birthday cupcakes

My eldest's birthday cupcakes

My eldest's birthday cupcakes

And for my youngest actual birthday, I wanted to make her a green tea pound cake as she absolutely loves green tea. However, I was using a new recipe, and the recipe had suggested a pan too small. The batter overfilled mid way baking, and the end product was too ugly to be made into a birthday cake (taste wise it was fabulous).

Thanks to Cini, I had 4 cupcakes sent over after she heard about my baking disaster.

My youngest's birthday cupcakes from Creative Cupcakes Creative Bakers

Happy Birthday to My Sugar and Spice.

Black sesame tang yuan

Today is Donzhi (冬至) Festival or Winter Solstice.

Scientifically From Wikipedia it means :
The winter solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, the term is also a turning point to midwinter or the first day of winter to refer to the day on which it occurs. More evident to those in high latitudes, this occurs on the shortest day and longest night, when the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest.

For Chinese, this is the day we grow older and get wiser. And as a reunion dish, in most housewhole, we would either make our own tangyuan(湯圓) or glutinous rice balls; or buy the ready made ones.

I have mine made at home, so the girls can take the opportunity to participate in making the little balls as well.

I mixed some ground black saseme, small amount of black sesame seeds (to give it some crunch), sugar and some vegetable oil to make the filling.
Ground Black Sesame and Black Sesame

I just mix it according to my taste. It’ll become a very crumbly paste.
Sesame paste

Then I roll about 1 tsp of the filling into balls, put them into the freezer for about an hour to harden and make them easier to wrap with the dough later.

Sesame fillings in balls

♥Recipe and Method to Make Tang Yuan or Glutinous Rice Balls dough♥ (Make 20 small balls and 35 big balls with fillings)
1) Add 2 cups of glutinous rice ball with 1 cup of water and 2 tbs of sugar
2) Mix until the it becomes a soft dough.
3) Pinch half of the dough and drop it in boiling water to cook. The dough will rise when it’s cooked. When the dough is still hot, mix it with the rest of the dough and knead until a smooth dough is formed.

To make the balls, take enough dough and roll into a ball, press it down with your palm, put a ball of sesame paste into the centre, gather the sides and pinch away access dough. Roll it to a ball.
Making the tang yuan

You can either immediately drop the tang yuan into a pot of boiling water to cook soon after you made them, or place them on a floured plate and cook them in a batch later.

A bowl of Tang Yuan

To make the soup, boil a pot of water with brown sugar and a smashed piece of ginger, we added screw pine or pandan leave just to get the extra flavour.

Tang Yuan / 芝麻湯圓

Happy Winter Sostice to everyone!
冬至快乐!

Lee Yen celebrated her daughter’s 1st birthday last month, and she ordered cupcakes, and biscuits as party favours from me, all with butterfly theme.

I was under some pressure when I knew she was getting a party supplier to help her with the theme. Luckily she was very easy to work with, and she told me not to stress out as it’s just a small party.

In the end, her party supplier could not help at the very last minute, and she did everything on her own. You should see what she did for the party, and maybe she can be a party supplier herself.

For me, the difficult bit was the decorated butterfly biscuits. 20 of them, all different designs but with the same colour schemes.
Decorated butterfly biscuits

Decorated butterfly biscuits

These biscuits were pretty big, about 8cmx10cm.
Decorated butterfly biscuits

Decorated butterfly biscuits

I made some smaller minimally decorated flower biscuits, these would taste more like butter biscuits, and crunchier compared to the fully decorated ones.
Flower Biscuits

Each party favour comes with 1 big decorated butterfly biscuit.
Party favours

Accompanied with a couple of small minimally decorated flower biscuits.
Party favours

So if you want to eat some and keep some, you can do so.

And these are the cupcakes for her Butterfly theme party.
Butterfly cupcakes

Butterfly cupcakes

I don’t think anybody really likes the taste of fondant, but fondant does make very beautiful and durable decorations. So in this case, we combined tasty butter cream frosting, with a fondant topper. We got best of both worlds!
Butterfly cupcakes

Butterfly cupcakes

It was a pleasure to be part of this beautiful birthday party.

Yesterday marked the last day of school for my children, it’s also the last day of kindergarten for my eldest, as she’ll be entering Primary 1 when school reopens.

Both girls spent 2 years in their current school, and because their school has very low student teacher ratio, they have been very close with a few of their class mates as well as teachers.

Two days before the last day of school, my eldest wrote some cards and gave to a few closest friends, writing down my phone number, and telling them she loves them, and they’ll be BFFs (Best Friend For Ever).

I’m not sure about her, but I was feeling rather sad to see her say good byes to her BFFs; none of her classmates are going to be in the same school as her in Primary 1. To me, it’s like an I-May-Not-See-You-Again kind of good byes. I’ll definitely try to organise some play dates, so that they’ll get to see each other and enjoy each other’s company again.

As for the teachers, they have taught her to be responsible, confident, and out spoken. I just hope the primary school we’re sending her will not reverse all these efforts.

As a token of appreciate, I baked some biscuits for all the teachers in school, since every one of them have either taught my eldest or my youngest.

I made them Little Christmas tree biscuits which have been decorated just a little.

Christmas Tree Biscuit

Christmas Tree Biscuit

They are good to be eaten, and they keep rather well too.
Christmas Tree Biscuit

Christmas Tree Biscuit

I packed them in twos, and got the girls to distribute them yesterday.
Christmas Tree Biscuit

My eldest will definitely cherish her time in the school, and I hope she and some of her friends, will be true BFFs.

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