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Rich dark chocolate cookies

>> Monday, June 27, 2011

Deep dark chocolate cookies

The cookie jar has such an important place in my family. Most of the time, it is filled with delicious cookies. But for the past few weeks, I was into cupcake testing and the cookies jar was left empty. My MIL decided to fill it up with store-bought shortbreads. A few days after, the jar was still full. No one seemed to be really keen on those.

So a few nights back, after getting home from work, I baked these simple cookies while making dinner at the same time. I want something deeply chocolate and not too sweet. These are just that. They are simple, which is a good thing for everyday snack. I like the texture – crispy, but not too hard like biscotti. I can dip them into a glass of warm tea and milk at night, and the feeling is good.

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Winter is here in Melbourne, and I find it hard to find the rhythm. Most days I leave home in the dark, and getting back when the sun has gone. It feels like I have been missing out a large part of the days. *sigh*

That is why the weekend with family is much appreciated. I can see my garden in the bright light, chit chat with my mother in law about her new favorite Korean shows, and even do some crafts (see the flowers in the photos? They are made with tissue papers, by my MIL). Then, there is dinner together. 5 of us together, often filled with laughter and joy.

We always finish our meal with tea. So cookies are good to have around. I know our cat Den approves :)

Cookies thief alert!

I love experimenting with new things, so here it goes. A recipe card of some sorts. Click on it, and you will be able to view the full-size image to print out. :) Have fun!

Rich dark chocolate cookies

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Sticky rice with cassava and onion oil (xôi sắn/xôi khoai mì)

>> Sunday, June 12, 2011

{Delicious Vietnam #14}

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It is cold, and the rain hasn’t stopped. I wake up to the sound of the rain, and the wind. It has been so cold, and waking up in the 5C isn’t the easiest thing to do. After feeding Đen, it is time for my own breakfast, which is a simple affair for most days. Toasts or muesli and coffee. Sometimes if Mr. B is around I will make something with eggs although I am not a fan of them for morning meals.

Sometimes, the “Vietnamese in me” wants a heavy breakfast though. Noodle soup (bún, mì, phở), congee (cháo) or sticky rice (xôi). It’s a rather substantial meal but oh-so-satisfying and can set you right up for the rest of the day. (And it makes sense scientific wise to have a glorious breakfast, yes?)

Lately I have been craving for sticky rice. Sticky rice with cassava (xôi sắn) in particular. This is not the sort of thing you often find in Hanoi shops. It’s a pheasant dish that Ms. Lụa, my home-help, used to cooked up at my request. I remember her asking why the Hanoians didn’t embrace this sticky rice dish. Too heavy to their “refined taste”? Whatever. I love it.

Xôi sắn (Vietnamese sticky rice with cassava)

Anyway, this is my first time cooking sticky rice with casasva. The last time I had a chance to enjoy it was more than five years ago. When Ms. Lua left, no one made it for me anymore. Thankfully, it isn’t hard to cook. Just a little bit of organisation is needed. Sticky rice must be soaked the days before (4 hours in summer, and longer time for winter). Frozen cassava is thawed, cut into large pieces then mixed with the rice. The whole mixture is then steamed in a steamer until cooked through.

The sticky rice is typically served with a mixture spring onion cooked in lard. I have substituted lard with oil without much problem. Sometimes people will also add prawn floss. Today I have paired the sticky rice with a Malaysian-inspired anchovy sambal (!). It’s highly non-Vietnamese but this is an effort to please the Singaporean side of my family and introduce them to the dish. It’s a win-win situation, you know? ;)

(Now a bit of language lesson for those who understand. Cassava is called củ sắn in the north and khoai mì in the south. Don't confused with "củ sắn" in the southern Vietnamese language, which means jicama)

I am sending this dish to Delicious Vietnam #14. This month is hosted by the lovely couple at rauom. Please join us for some tasty treats!

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Sticky rice with cassava and spring onion sauce (xôi sắn/xôi khoai mì)
You will need to start this recipe the day before

Ingredients (feed hungry 5 people and more)
500g sticky rice (glutinous rice or sweet rice)
500g frozen cassava, thawed, drained and cut into pieces*
1/2 tablespoon salt

½ cup oil
2 cups finely chopped spring onions (both green and white parts)
2 tsp salt

Method

Wash the sticky rice and soak it overnight. The next day, drain the rice in a colander.

Mix the rice well with salt and cassava pieces. Put the rice in a steamer and steam over medium heat for around 30 minutes or until cooked through.

When the rice is being cooked, prepare the spring onion oil  - Heat the oil, add salt and briefly fry the finely chopped up spring onion. Let cool.

Serve the sticky rice hot, drizzle with the spring onion oil. Serve with anchovies sambal, if desired.

(*) Frozen cassavas are at Asian shops. You can use fresh cassava - peel well and cut into cubes and cook as above.

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Malaysian-inspired anchovy sambal

I like the use of vinegar here. It makes the anchovies crispier for longer. My sambal is not as sweet as the traditional Malaysian kind, so increase the amount of sugar if you like.

1.5 cups dried anchovies
2 tablespoons oil
4 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons ground chilli (store-bought)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar

Wash the dried anchovies and drain well.
Pound the shallots and garlic into a fine paste.
In a wok, add 1-2 tablepoons oil, fry the anchovies in low heat until cripsy. Dish out. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of oil, fry the garlic-shallot paste until golden. Mix in chilli sauce, sugar, vinegar and toss through the fried anchovies.
This will keep well for a few days.

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Update & My guest posts on Journey Kitchen & Ecurry

Hello friends from the land of down under! I have been quiet on this blog for a while now, due to some really good reasons, all food related!

First off, I re-worked on the concept of my monthly food column with the Vietnamese fashion DEP magazine and I am really pleased with the result. Below is the layout of my latest article on how to make kimchi and a recipe for kimchi potato pancake. Oh, and kimchi fried rice, too. I hope to write up the recipe in English to share with you in the coming days.

Layout for kimchi article 

Also, I have been honoured to write guest posts for two of my favourite blog friends, Kulsum of Journey Kitchen and Soma of Ecurry. These two blogs are absolutely wonderful, so please do check out!

My guest posts for these two ladies reflect what I love doing in autumn. The post on Journey kitchen involves a favourite autumn/winter fruit – quince. I have kept things simple by introducing the lovely poached quince with spices. This is how I love most about quince anyway. Here is the link for your viewing pleasure.

Poached quinces with spices

Cold weather also makes me crave for things like pie and stew. So I proceeded and made a rustic bitter greens and sucuk pie for eCurry. It was made from the freshest greens I could find. Together with cheeses and sucuk (Turkish spicy sausage), the filling was really wonderful . 


 That is for me now! I need to return to the kitchen and turn the attention to my Delicious Vietnam project ;). Wish me luck guys and see you soon!

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