Happy Chap Goh Meh! To mark the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations, I thought I'd give peanuts a salute. We're being on symbolism, and peanuts are easily one of the most popular exchanges over Chinese New Year, a packet often placed alongside a few mandarins in our little gift bags. They're suppose to mean all sorts of good things - health, prosperity and all things leading to positive growth. So, this year, I thought I'd make sure that we had plenty of peanuts, in all forms, including cookies.
Adapted from the Classic Peanut Butter Cookies recipe
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla essence.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into batter. Refrigerate batter overnight.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake.
Crunchy and crumbly, with a lovely peanut buttery flavour.
Here's to a peanut-y new year! (And one that's also filled with lots and lots of "gold")
Cornflake cookies - festivals - they just fit, you know? Chinese New Year is no exception, so whether you are partial to the sticky-crunch sort of cornflake treats that come in tiny paper cups or actual cookies, there's always some way of presenting cornflakes at the cookie table. The cookie type is a childhood favourite so I thought it would be nice to relive some of those childhood cookie-times this year.
Adapted from Bee's Cornflake Cookie Recipe (Rasa Malaysia)
200 g butter
300g all-purpose flour
about 80g cornflakes, crushed roughly (more cornflakes may be required)
1 tsp vanilla essence
30g corn flour/corn starch
Beat butter and sugar till pale and creamy.
Add vanilla essence and stir in the lightly beaten eggs.
Fold in the flour mixture including corn flour.
Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
Pre-heat oven to 177 degree's Celsius
Using a teaspoon, scoop dough and shape into balls before rolling them in the crushed cornflakes.
Place onto baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes or till golden brown.
I found that refraining from crushing the cornflakes too finely made working with them easier - the larger cornflake bits were able to adhere to the cookie dough a lot better than the finer ones.
The end result - a crisp outer shell and a mellow, buttery cookie underneath. Oh, and a piece of the Chinese New Year cookie table puzzle complete.
These are the last little bits of Sydney (I realise that it's been three months since I was there, so it really is about time) - just some random pieces of the puzzle to complete the picture.
Macarons and pretty slices of cake
La Renaissance Café Pâtisserie
47 Argyle Street The Rocks
Sydney NSW 2000
Perhaps the most gorgeous macarons I've ever had - those lovely little flecks of colour on the shell, the clever use of colours, and yes, they taste good as well.
Passion de Pierre - passion fruit-inspired, as the name suggests. To be completely honest, we picked this out of the rows of pretty slices on display just so that we could giggle at the fact that we were tucking into a giraffe-looking dessert - we made the right choice, no matter what the initial intention was.
A berry flan - almost too precise to stick our forks into.
Sunshine and salty sea air on Bondi Beach
There were far too many fish and chip shops to choose from along the Bondi Beach stretch so we walked into the one with the biggest crowd. Family, bench, sun, sea, hot crispy fish - now, that's what it's all about.
The little brother finally got around to trying deep fried Mars bars - all gooey in the centre, crisp on the outside, and with an extra dose of icing sugar on top. Not quite my cup of tea - but you have to give it to these people for being able to deep fry almost anything (I hear that they go as far as deep frying pizzas in other parts of the world)
All Aboard the Dessert Train!
Call it curiosity, call it unleashing your inner child - whatever it is, one doesn't say no to a visit to the dessert train.
Zumbo's Dessert Train
Shop 1, Cafe Court
80 Pyrmont St
Pyrmont, NSW 2009
It's a cute concept, the train, and the best part of it all is the fact that, quite like being in a well stocked sushi bar, one doesn't have to wait for food. Tiny portions of desserts go round and round, tempting, teasing, until you give in and pick up the plate. It's a remarkably small outlet, though, so there was a bit of a wait to get a seat and there's a good chance that groups larger than two wouldn't be able to sit together.
The much talked-about Zumbarons, which unfortunately didn't come close to the Baroque macarons we'd had earlier in the holiday.
Pear and chocolate - cream crunch gel.
I have to admit, I was a tad disappointed by the dessert train - I expected a little more "wow" from an outlet bearing Zumbo's name. Desserts are rather unusual, and there's definitely some novelty in the colourful plates choo-chooing past - perhaps good for a one-time visit, just to satisfy the inner child.
I thought I'd take a little break from all the Chinese New Year festivities and give Pancake Tuesday a belated nod, because well, pancakes really do deserve a day dedicated to them. I love pancakes of all kinds - I think it's just the whole concept of having a empty, open slate, ready to be topped with anything your heart fancies. I remember celebrating Pancake Days with quite a flourish (no pun intended!) in university - we'd line up our selection of toppings, everything from Nutella to pesto and shrimp sambal, and churn out pancake after pancake.
I love how versatile pancakes are - and how well they hold up against both sweet and savoury (as well as a combination of the both) toppings. We were told about Pancakes On The Rocks before leaving for Sydney and it immediately made it onto our list of must-eats.
Pancakes On The Rocks (Darling Harbour)
227 & 229-230 Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour
We were greeted by rain as we stepped out of our hotel that morning - trudging across the bridge, clutching out umbrellas, we were really, really looking forward to a hearty pancake breakfast.
Ice cream for breakfast? Over here, it's perfectly acceptable.
An Aussie Sunrise, to brighten up a gloomy morning - fluffy pancakes, a grilled banana and pineapple ring, bacon, scrambled eggs, whipped butter and syrup. Everything you need to get you going for a day of sight-seeing. (Also, I simply cannot stress how much I love having the best of both sweet and savoury breakfast worlds on one plate. How is it that syrup just goes with everything?)
Mexican Potato - potato and onion pancakes, Mexican-inspired beef, guacamole, sour cream and tomato salsa, for a slightly different start to the day.
Pesto and pinenut pizza crusts - for those of us (me included) who think that the best part of a pizza is its crunchy ends.
And of course, a foam-capped cup of coffee to wash it all down.
So here's to you, pancakes, you delightful little things.