How To Peel A Pomelo

 

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Pomelo is like a mega grapefruit. Except that the flavor is milder and sweeter.  We all love it.  Except that peeling it takes quite a bit of time.  How come? you ask.

Because this is the way my grandmother taught me to peel it and this is the way I now insist on peeling it.  And now I want to record it down for posterity.

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Using a sharp knife, cut off the top as shown.

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Then score the pomelo with a knife about 2/3 of the way, abput 1-2 cm deep.

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Using your hands, peel the skin but do not peel it off totally.  Leave the bottom attached together.  Remove the fruit and peel off the white pith.

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Tadah! Now wear the pomelo hat and parade around the room as per my tradition!

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Or fashion it into some kind of lantern and parade around.

 

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Pineapple Tarts

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We Singaporeans love our pineapple tarts.  It’s our special Chinese New Year treat and staple.  Every household will have at least a jar of pineapple tarts during this festive season.  Every store will be selling, everybody will be buying/baking pineapple tarts. The internet is not short on pineapple tart recipes as well.

So what makes mine so special?  It’s special because it is done the way I like it.  You know what gets my goat?  When people eat my tarts and say hmm, you didn’t put enough pineapple, your crust is too gummy/hard/soft/crumbly, not sweet/sour/salty enough, too small/big, too much /little crust.  They seem to think there is One Pineapple Tart to rule them all and that I need pointers from them to achieve this elusive One Pineapple Tart. People should just eat, appreciate the free tarts and say mmm, yummy, thank you.  It’s simply good manners and grace.

Over time, our taste buds change and our needs change and hence my recipes change.  I used to love pineapple tarts that melt and crumble in the mouth.  I no longer do.  Now I like something with more crunch and more robust, not so delicate as I need them to survive the journey to my kids’ school.   I still like it really buttery, and have equal amount of pineapple to crust. I’m more about flavor and taste than looks.  So it’s perfectly all right to me if they come out looking a bit pale and cracked.  I also have to make sure the recipe has no milk as some of us are lactose-intolerant, as well as no other unnecessary artificial additives like coloring and artificial flavoring.

So here’s my 2017 version.  It’s slightly crunchy, buttery (not flour-y or doughy), bite-size and equal amount of stuffing to crust.

Pineapple Tarts (sorry I don’t know how many it makes. Just a lot.  Like about 250?)

250 g cold salted butter (use the best butter)

425 g plain flour

pinch of salt

1 egg (70g size), beaten

4 Tbsp sugar

3 Tbsp desiccated coconut

Rub butter into flour using finger tips until resembles bread crumbs. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix into a smooth non-sticky dough.  If it is a little tacky, it’s ok as you can dust with flour later.  Leave dough to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or a few days.

Pineapple paste/jam

Sorry, these days I take short cuts and buy the packet of paste from the shops.  BUT, when I was in Michigan and desperately needed pineapple tarts, I used canned crushed pineapple in juice. Boil the crushed pineapple (with juice, for flavor).  Sugar if you wish and boil until you get dry-ish pineapple paste.

So as for mise en place, first roll all the pineapple paste and all the dough approximately equal in size. Then stuff the pineapple into the dough.  Roll in the palms of your hands to achieve a smooth dough.

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Short crust pastry don’t exactly expand when cooking, so go ahead and place them close together.  I can make about 77 0n one cookie sheet.

Bake about 160 c for about 15 min, rotate pan if you need to, egg wash if you wish (I don’t), bake another 15 min.

It takes longer to make than to eat.  So do make more! 8D

 

 

Milk Kefir Pancakes

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Recently I bought milk kefir grains off somebody from Carousell.  It cost me $5 for a little teaspoon of milk kefir grains.  I really had my doubts about such a teensy amount of kefir grains. But only for a day! Coz the next day, my grains looked like there were more! Now  I am churning out more milk kefir than I can consume! In our warm climate, they are ready in about half a day, which is too fast for me. So I leave them for up to about 48 hours.  As a result they turn out really tangy.  Then it struck me that it would be perfect for replacing the yogurt in my yogurt pancakes.

It made really nice fluffy pancakes!  Check out the thick stack!

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Milk Kefir Pancakes (makes about 5)

1 cup milk kefir (quite tangy, after abt 12 hour fermentation)

1 egg (beaten)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp oil

Mix everything together and leave it for about *1/2 hour for the baking soda to work.

Cook pancake on non-stick pan.

*It’s not tangy by the time it’s cooked because I gave the baking soda time to work. In simple layman terms, the kefir is acidic, baking soda alkaline. So when they come together, they kinda cancel each other out, leaving behind lotsa gas and bubbles, thence resulting in fluffiness.=D

 

Fleece Softies

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Felt is easy for children to handle when they first start to sew. It is easily available, comes in many colors, doesn’t fray, it’s thick, yet easy to cut and it’s stiff. It’s stiff. That’s a good thing. But not so good for cuddling. And after a while, felt (I can only find acrylic/polyester felt) starts to pill. Then the whole project just look worn.

Fleece is a better choice as it is softer and better for cuddling. It doesn’t fray either and not difficult to cut. I do prefer fleece for softies. But living in the tropics, it’s not easy to find.  However, I found out recently that Ikea sells inexpensive fleece blankets/throws which comes in a few colors. So far I have acquired it in cream white, red, light blue and Mikey (from Monster Inc) green. I believe I saw one in tiger print too!  These are fantastic for crafts! I don’t remember how much but they were way under $10 each and came in a huge piece!

Last week, we had a workshop, sewing snowman and snow bear by hand. My students (youngest being 5) had no issues handling fleece.

I wish they have it in brown Coz I’m thinking gingerbread man softie would be so cute! As would brown bear!

Oh, and no problem with laundering.  Just put your softie in a laundry bag and toss it in together with the rest of the wash.

Carrot Cupcakes

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I like frosting more than most of my peers. But at the same time I always felt that frosting is used to cover up dry, bland cake. If a cake is good enough, it should be able to stand alone.  For example, brownies. If a brownie is dense, chewy, chocolatey, then frosting it is like *adding legs to a drawing of a snake.

What I am trying to say is that my carrot cake does not need any frosting coz it is yummy on its own.  8D

This is an easy recipe.  Except the grating of carrot part coz I hand grated them on an ancient grater.  I didn’t enjoy that part.  But the eating part, definitely!  It’s moist, tender, and not overly sweet.

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Carrot Cupcakes (makes about 15 cupcakes)

225 g melted butter or 225 ml oil

3 large eggs

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp rum essence

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup flaxseed meal

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2  1/4 tsp baking powder

9 oz grated carrot (about 2 medium size)

1 cup walnut bits

Mix everything together.

Heat up oven to 180c.  Bake in muffin cups for about 20 min.

 

* A Chinese story about a kid who after drawing a snake decided to add on some legs coz he didn’t know what else to draw.

 

Coffee Butter Cookies

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Sometimes you just want to eat your coffee.

This is a variation of my butter cookie recipe.  I threw in a small handful of chocolate chips coz coffee and chocolate go together.  But not too much as this a a coffee cookie, not chocolate chips cookie.

Coffee Butter Cookies

250 g butter (softened)

250 g sugar

2 Tbsp desiccated coconut

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp instant coffee granules

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

pinch of salt

handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Cream butter and sugar until well mixed.  Add in everything.  Mix well.  Dough should not be sticky.  If it sticks to your hands, add in a bit more flour.

Chill dough for at least half an hour.  Scoop teaspoonfuls on a lined cookie sheet.Press lightly at the top to flatten them a bit.

Bake in a 180C oven for about 15 min.  Turn off the oven and let it dry out for another 15 min.  This makes it more crunchy.  It’s optional of course.

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I have collated a list of FAQs that people have asked me.  Hope it helps.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where do I buy softened butter?

Just leave it on the counter top for a little while and it should soften.

2. I chilled my dough like you said and now it’s all hard!  What do I do?

Just leave it on the counter top for a little while and it should soften.

3. My cup is bigger/smaller than yours.  How?

I use a standard measuring cup.  Please get one from the baking shop.

4. Must I dissolve the instant coffee in water first?

No.

5. Must I use the electric mixer to cream my butter and sugar until light and fluffy?

This step is not necessary for cookies.  I just use a wooden spoon and whisk the butter and sugar till well mixed.

6. Can I freeze the dough?

Yes.

7. Why are you so inconsistent? You use cups to measure flour and grams for measuring sugar and butter??

Because it’s faster and less messy for me.  Butter is pre-measured in grams; sugar I usually eyeball using a Tbsp (usually 25g per Tbsp); measuring so much flour in cups is less messy than on a kitchen scale.

8. Can don’t chill the dough?  So troublesome!

Yes.  It’ll still work.  But it probably won’t taste like mine.

9. Your blog is always about baking/chocolate/coconut/sweet potatoes/muffins/cookies.  Don’t you know/make anything else, like real food?

Yes.  But I LOVE baking/chocolate/coconut/sweet potatoes/muffins/cookies.

10. How do you invent/come up with recipes?

I am not afraid to substitute and experiment.  I encourage you to do the same. *wink

 

 

 

Chocolate Coconut Waffles

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Chocolate a day keeps the frown away. 8D

 

Chocolate Coconut Waffles (makes about 8)

250 g plain flour

150 g sugar

1-2 tsp instant yeast

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

pinch of salt

2 eggs

200 ml coconut milk

200 ml water

6 Tbsp coconut oil

Mix everything together and leave to proof in a warm place for about 45 min.

Cook waffle as usual.  Flavorful enough to eat it on its own.  Or with chocolate ice cream!

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Lavender Butter Cookies

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Lavender cookies haven’t exactly hit the market here yet.  Most of us can’t imagine it coz we only get lavender in our soap, perfume and talcum powder.  So when they think of lavender cookies, they will picture a sickening soap-flavored cookie instead.  I have tested my lavender cookies on my friends.  Most of the guys will balk at flower-flavored cookies whereas the women love it. I like it.  The cookie is crunchy, buttery (I use cultured butter) and it’s got a pleasant, mild lavender smell that is nothing like soap.

In this recipe, I made my own desiccated coconut. I do it because I want to avoid sulfur dioxide which is used to preserve color in food that tends to turn brown. For example, dried fruits like apples, mangoes, yellow raisins and coconut contain sulfur dioxide.  It’s just not good for people with eczema.  It’s extra work but it’s not hard work.  Just get skinned grated coconut from the market or grocery store.  Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it on low temperature in the oven until dry.  Store in fridge or freezer.  Of course if you have no issue with sulfur dioxide, then just buy desiccated coconut from the store and make your life easier.

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Lavender Butter Cookies (about 50 bite-sized cookies)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 sticks butter

250 g sugar

1 Tbsp desiccated  coconut

2-3 Tbsp lavender flowers

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar until well mixed.  Add in the rest of the ingredients.  The dough will be soft but not sticky.  If it’s sticky, add in more flour.

Chill for a few hours.

To bake, preheat oven to 180 c.  Bake for about 15 min.  Turn off oven and let it dry out and crisp in the oven for about 15 min.