Pineapple Tarts

The first set of CNY goodies that I wanted to bake was naturally Pineapple Tarts because they are my favourite! But  you know what? Our area does not have pre-made pineapple filling! *Faint* This will make baking the tarts a whole lot more time-consuming but I shall persevere!

The filling is easy to make, just that it takes up time and energy and definitely not economical. I used 2 cans of sliced pineapples for a small bowl of filling in the end.

Anyway, here’s how for the pineapple filling:

2 cans of sliced pineapples
10 tbsp of sugar (more or less to suit your taste)
4 cloves
1 tsp cornstarch (mixed with water)

Drain the sliced pineapples and then cut them into smaller pieces. You really want to make sure that you drain as much juice from the pineapples as possible. This will make the cooking easier in the later stage.

Use a food processor to mince the pineapple. You can chop up the pineapples if you do not have the equipment. Drain the minced pineapple again.

 

Over low heat, combine minced pineapple with sugar and cloves in a heavy-bottom pot and cook until dry. Stir constantly using a wooden spoon to avoid burning. Taste, and add more sugar if needed. Add in the cornstarch to thicken the mixture. Set aside and let it cool in the fridge.

Now on to the pastry filling which I use RasaMalaysia’s recipe as a guide and then experiment with it.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks (230g) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg yolk + a little milk (lightly beaten for egg wash)

Preheat the oven for 350F/ 180C

Sieve the flour, corn flour, salt and sugar into a medium bowl. Beat butter in a mixer until it turns light in color and fluffy. Add in egg yolks (one at a time) until well combined. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

Divide the pastry dough. This is the part that I experimented with it. I would love to eat pineapple tarts with a sufficient amount of pineapple filling so the proportion has to be right. To be meticulous, I employed the help of my weighing scale. For the first tart, I measured 20g of dough with 7g of filling  but found that the filling was not enough. Eventually, I tried a 2:1 proportion – 16g of dough with 8g of filling for each tart and this was a better combination.

Make a ball with each 16g of dough. Do the same with the filling. Flatten each of those with the palms and put the pineapple filling in the middle and use the dough to cover the filling. Use your palms to round it up and then brush it with the egg wash. If you like, you may insert a clove on top as a design.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.

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Lotus root soup

Expect more soup since the weather is so cold.
This would be my second attempt at cooking this soup and I basically am comfortable with this outcome. This recipe is made for 2 but will take you 2 days to finish, especially if your other partner does not like lotus root. =p

500g pork bone, blanched
1 lotus root
80g peanuts (washed and soaked for 30 minutes)
10 red dates (soaked for about 5 minutes)
6 cups of water
salt and soy sauce to taste

Place all ingredients into a large pot (I used a 3 qt dutch oven). Bring to boil and simmer for 2-3 hours. Remove scum if necessary. Season to taste.

* The soup tastes better the following day.

On housing

Frustration set in.

On the stovetop, there were a dutch oven with simmering Lotus Root Soup and a saucepan of pineapple jam. On the third burner was another saucepan with boiling water to blanch the broccoli. Soon, something has to give way to a frying wok for the broccoli and beef.

At the sink area, a chopping board and a chef’s knife dominated the small space. A few centimetres away was a bowl with marinated beef that was just taken out from the fridge, waiting to be cooked and not too far away was the bowl of cooked pineapple jam. The cook was worried and frustrated. She knew about the Food Temperature Danger Zone where bacteria can grow rapidly but there was no other space to place it. The only other countertop that existed in the kitchen was occupied by the standmixer and the rice-cooker.

And her kitchen was considered of a good size in apartments in this part of the region. Many kitchens were way compact. She knew she had to count her blessings but she also knew that the size of the kitchen would be one of the main criteria when she selects her apartment back home. It would definitely not be based on how the apartment looks from the outside.

The moment I reached Boston a few nights ago, I called mom whom I knew from my sis and bro that she was looking desperately for me. I knew what it was with some heads-up from sis. It was the same story – that she wanted me to buy a unit at Pinnacle@Duxton since there were extra units available for sale.

On and on she raved and her excitement could be felt from the other side of the world. When she stopped, I asked a simple question, “Have you actually been inside the unit? Do you know how small it is?” There was a short silence. Yes, she had but the building looked very cool and there was even a garden on the rooftop!

What’s the big deal of a garden on a rooftop? She has a BIG garden near her current apartment and why is that not good enough? Anyway, I don’t see her going to the garden! I was surprised that a commonly practical mom would fall prey to aesthetics, especially when it comes to big-ticket items.

“Mom, I need a BIG kitchen like the one that you now have. I don’t need a nice looking apartment, esp if it’s just from the outside. I need space! Think about it. When the children come along, do you expect us to move?”

She let out an ‘Oh-I-see!’ and I rest my case.

I am in favour of old flats because they could promise me big kitchen and rooms (anyway, I don’t think they would crumble in my lifetime and definitely don’t think that my offspring would appreciate such an inheritance).  Of course, who won’t be enticed when we see beautiful buildings? I would! Most of the time, when I went to a condo, I would admire the pleasant environment and would want to consider staying in one. However, most of the gatherings in condos were normally held in the clubhouse and I could not see the actual unit itself. When I did, I wasn’t impressed – the unit was small and congested. Well, if you have a lot of money, then that’s another matter. You could afford bigger ones, obviously. For us, we could afford bigger ones – the HDB way.

At least for me, my main criterion is the kitchen – that it should be big enough for me to work on a few dishes at one time.

* Apologies if you are staying in a condo and feel offended in any way. The above is just a personal thought. =p