Friday, September 28, 2012

One Tired Dog

Run, run, run.  Life can be so hard sometimes. She has to run, roll over and chase the ball…… and she’s so tired now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Candied Coconut or Coconut Ice Thai Style (มะพร้าวแก้วไกลบ้าน)

When I was young about 4, my father was stationed for his work in the small seaside town east of Bangkok. For some reason, my brother and I went to school there for a year and our mother would travel from Bangkok to join us for the weekends. My father’s chauffer‘s wife had to babysit me from time to time in between our ‘nannies’. Dad would give her some money to buy me afternoon treats. She often bought me this beautiful thing that would become my favourite until now – candied coconut. It was also the first thing I learned to cook in the home-economics class in school years later. So it was quite nostalgic when I made this the other day.

1 ½ cups desiccated coconut (long threads)
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
A drop of food colouring (pink and green are traditional)

Place sugar, salt and water in a heavy bottom saucepan on medium heat, boil and reduce to thick syrup (about 4 minutes - in Thailand we would use the term "to the consistency of soft boiled egg yolk ":). Add vanilla and a drop of food colouring and stir to combine.  Add coconut and stir well until all covered in syrup, keep stirring for about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and scoop the candied coconut with 2 spoons and drop into a small pile on the baking paper, repeat with the rest of the coconut. You have to work quickly as the coconut will start to set when cool. Leave to dry completely and pack in an air tight container. Make about 10-12 medium size pieces.

Note: If you like a softer texture, you can soften the dessicated coconut with a little bit of hot water and drain well before adding to the syrup.This is also suitable for vegetarians - just omit red food colouring. In Thailand, green colouring can be derived from ใบเตย or Pandan Leaves  - not only the colour is good, but the smell is also divine. We also use freshly grated coconut for this sweetie back home.

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Happy Dog

This is one happy dog. After a long wet winter and cabin fever, Bonnie is so happy now that the weather is getting warmer (and it does not rain everyday :) and she can stretch her (short) legs and run full throttle in the park.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Study of a Sleeping Cat in Sepia


 My darling cat, Pipi, sleeping in her old donut bed.

 Pipi on the beanbag.

Pipi on our (her) cushions. 
Strangely, the dog and cat in our household are at their cutest when they are asleep.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Asian Style Chicken & Corn Pies

It might sound a bit unusual but these pies are very tasty, IMHO. I have adapted the following recipe from Hot Food (Murdoch Books). You can use individual pie tins or muffin/cupcake pan – make sure you grease your tins/pans very well cooking these pies even though they are of a non-stick kind. I used muffin pan for mine and the recipe yielded 10 small pies.

400 grams skinless chicken thigh meat, cubed
2 slices root ginger, finely chopped
1 ½ cups corn kernels
100 grams button mushrooms, sliced
150 ml chicken stock (I used 1 teaspoon stock powder and 150 ml water)
1 -2  tbsp sweet soy sauce
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
3 teaspoon corn flour mixed with a bit of water
A dash of black pepper
2 sheets short crust pastry
1 ½ sheets puff pastry
1 egg, beaten for glazing
A little bit of oil for frying

Heat oil in a wok and fry chicken until lightly brown, add ginger and fry a little bit further before adding corn and mushrooms. Fry until cooked through then add sweet soy sauce and stock. Taste and add salt if needed. Bring to the boil and add corn flour mixture. Stir well then add coriander leaves and pepper. Place the filling in a bowl, leave to cool and rest in the fridge for half an hour to an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 195 degrees C.
Grease the pan well including the top edge. Cut short crust pasty into 10 rounds and line the holes of the pan - leave about ½ cm on the top edge. Fill the pastry base with cold chicken mixture and press it down. Cut puff pastry into 10 smaller rounds for lids (1 cm bigger than the top of the holes) and cover each pie (brush the edge of the overhang base with water before placing the lids on). Seal the edge with fork and brush with egg.

Bake for half an hour or until golden brown. Leave pies in the tins/pan for 5 minutes before lifting them off the pan. If you have greased the tins well, this process should not be difficult. I made a mistake before by not greasing the top of the pan and it was a nightmare!