Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pau Part 2

I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!  As I've shared, pau was one of my favorite things.  I ate it almost every morning for breakfast, to the point that my fellow kindergarten teachers got concerned that I ate it so much.  My love of pau was kind of a joke around school.  These little steamed buns can be filled with anything.  My favorite ones were sweet, filled with red bean paste.  So today, I set out for the second time to recreate my favorite morning/anytime Malaysian treat.

I owe it all to 2 things/people:
1. A kitchen scale.  After last time's fiasco, I went out to Target and got an inexpensive kitchen scale (literally for the sole purpose of making pau).  I realized that 500 grams of flour was not what my googling converted it to in cups.
2. My pal, David.  David is the one who gave me this recipe in the first place and has offered advice as I navigate the really confusing world of pau.

And this time, it worked!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies

My grandma Derrick was serious when it came to all things baking.  Between her pies, cookies, and bread, there's a lot I have to learn from.  My mom just stumbled upon a stack of her recipe cards this week, which means I have some baking to do.  I LOVED grandma's oatmeal cookies, and I may have loved the process of making them even more.  Her secret trick was covering a glass with a wet handkerchief and pressing the dough flat.  This meant going and getting one of Papa's handkerchiefs and using it to press the cookies down.  One thing I like about this recipe is that the raisins are optional, so tonight I did half with and half without.  
Grandma taught me the importance of sifting flour and properly measuring flour (fluffing it before you scoop, not packing it in).  Also, greasing and flouring your pans as opposed to just greasing them makes ALL the difference.  Seriously. 
We aren't entirely sure who Aunt Jenny is (even my dad doesn't know), but this is Grandma's recipe card for her oatmeal cookies.

Tonight, there were no trips to Papa's drawer to get a handkerchief.  Instead I just wet a lightweight towel covering the glass.  

Grandma's ("Aunt Jenny") Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup crisco
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup regular sugar
Beat until fluffy.  Then add:
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups oats
1/2 cup rasins (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mix 1 1/2 tsp baking soda into 3 cups sifted flour.
Add alternatively with 1/4 milk, ending with flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Scoop 1 tsp scoops onto greased and floured baking sheet.  Cover juice glass with damp handkerchief, and press flat.  Bake 10-12 minutes. 

Chicken Rice

This was quite the undertaking, but one recipe I've been wanting to try since I returned.  Chicken rice was a staple in my diet.  Depending on the ethnic origin, each chicken rice shop had its own unique take on this dish.  It is a "simple"meal, but it actually takes a good bit of work to achieve the final product.  Today seemed like a good day for such an undertaking; I needed a project.  Shockingly, I only had to buy a few ingredients.  So after a run to my two favorite places: the grocery store and world market (you can't have chicken rice without the right dishes), I was ready to go.

I started with the chicken.  The recipe called for Chinese 5 spice, but this is not one of my favorite flavors so I left it out.  I combined soy sauce, ginger, honey and pepper and rubbed it on the chicken, letting it sit to marinate for awhile.  Once the chicken went in the oven, I started on the rice.  I told y'all I got a rice cooker for my birthday- LOVE IT.  I put a little oil in the bottom and threw in some garlic and ginger, stirring for about 2 minutes.  Then I stirred in the washed rice and chicken stock.  Good to go!

Chili padi is a staple, especially when you're eating chicken rice.  I had a recipe, so I figured, why not give it a try?  Into a blender went garlic, ginger, lime juice, red chilies, sugar, salt, and chicken stock.  I cried a little bit when I opened the blender- both from the joy that I had made my own chili padi, but also the chilies were a wee bit stronger than I expected.

In the mean time, I combined some chicken stock with watercress and a bit of salt for the soup served on the side of chicken rice. 
Finally, the chicken was done.  In Malaysia, you just chop through the whole chicken, getting skin, meat, and some bone surprises in each piece.  Tonight, I decided that was definitely the way to go after trying to carve the chicken in a graceful way.  We got some mangled chicken pieces here in the Derrick house.  

The final product!  Notice the festive dinnerware :)  I feel really accomplished over here, although it just wasn't the same (but I feel like that will be a common theme as I work on these recipes.)  To my Malaysia friends:  the chicken seemed to be missing a flavor, but I can't figure out what it was.  I'd love some feedback on how to adjust this recipe for the future!

Here's the recipe, compliments of one of my cookbooks from Malaysia:

Hainanese Chicken Rice (Hainanese is one of the dialect/ethnic Chinese groups… not only to the different groups have different language dialects, they each have their own unique recipes, too)
1 whole chicken
1 TBSP ginger juice
1 TBSP soy sauce
2 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp five spice powder
6 cups chicken stock
1-2 baby cucumbers
2 sprigs cilantro for garnish (I omitted this too.  I do not love cilantro.)

2 cups long-grain rice
1 1/2 TBSP oil
3/4 in ginger, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups watercress 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine ginger juice, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper and five spice powder, the coat chicken in mixture and set aside for 20 min.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place chicken in roasting pan and put into oven for 20 min.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and roast for 30-40 min until skin is brown and crisp.  Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes, then cut into serving portions.
While chicken is roasting, cook the rice.  Rinse and drain rice.  Heat oil in rice cooker and stir-fry garlic and ginger until golden brown.  Add rice and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.  Add salt and 2 1/3 cups chicken stock.  Cover and let cook.
While rice is cooking prepare the soup.  Heat remaining chicken stock and add watercress, salt and pepper.  
To serve:
Place cucumber as a bed for chicken, serve with rice, soup, and chili padi or soy sauce on the side.

Chicken Rice Chili Sauce 
4 red finger-length chilies
2 cloves garlic
1 1/4 in ginger, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 TBSP lime juice 
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 TBSP chicken stock or water

Grind ingredients together in mortar or blender.