Seriously, I don't feel like I have spent enough time in KK, my hometown, surrounded myself with mum and dad, my aunties, best friends and my parents' friends. The day before I left for Singapore, to spend the Chinese New Year with OCT's family, mum and I tried to recount the stuff we have done for the past 10 days, to recall if we have wasted any seconds.
But we couldn't think of anything! We were busy baking, cooking, chatting, eating and meeting up with friends, and watching the TVB series on Astro when the clock struck 8:30p.m! The only reason I could think of, is time flies faster when one is having a good time. I made plans to meet up with more friends and wanted to show OCT some places during his short stay in KK but nothing was materialised. Poor OCT didn't even see the beautiful beaches my hometown is known for! He was flooded by enthuasiastic friends and my extended family with many dinner invites.
I am feeling a bit sad that I couldn't spend my new year eve at home, eating the reunion dinner with my folks this year. Reunion dinner on the Chinese New Year eve is a big deal in the eastern culture, and family members, no matter where they are;will usually come back for a sit down feast together. Depending on different dialect groups, the food that are served on the reunion dinner can be quite different. However, most often than not, there will be different dishes that signify good health, longevity and prosperity.
Mandarin orange/clementines 柑, that sounds like gold in Chinese is a "must have" item during Chinese New Year. There are quite a few varieties, including sweet tangerines but I am no expert in this clementine/mandarin/tangerine business. I would trade the clementine for orange (or better yet-meyer lemon!) anytime. I look uninterested when mum raved about a certain variety of clementines and much less when she bought boxes after boxes of them to give away.
One of the Chinese New Year item that I actually enjoy eating is the steamed brown sugar cake, which is more well known as nian gao 年糕. It is a combination of brown sugar, water and glutinous rice flour being steamed to perfection in a container made of banana leaves. When done right, the final product should have the right amount of sweetness and just a tad of stickness when one bite into it. I love mum's version of nian gao, where she coated the sliced nian gao in egg batter and panfry them to a light golden hue. It was to my disappointment that OCT's family doesn't eat nian gao during Chinese New Year! Instead, different food are served for breakfast on the first day of Chinese New Year. I would have bought some nice nian gao from KK had I known it earlier..
On top of the homemade cookies we baked, mum also stocked up with some indispensable snacks we love to eat during Chinese New Year. Among them are a certain well-known Hong Kong brand almond cookies that melt-in-your-mouth and egg rolls. Of course, Chinese New Year will not be complete without the prawn crackers. A snack that even the most resolved dieter couldn't resist a second helping.
And now, without further ado, is the recipe for the pineapple rolls/tarts many of you have requested. I like how buttery the rolls turned out and believe the use of a better quality butter does make a difference. As for the filling, we are using the ready-made variety comes from Thailand instead of sweating over the real stuff. Usually,we stick with whichever supplier we have tried instead of switching from one to another. When in US, I used the canned crushed pineapple, drained and cooked down to the desired consistency, with sugar to taste.
for the pastry:
220g unsalted butter, at room temperature
375g all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
50g confectioners' sugar/icing sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg yolk, for egg wash
for the pineapple filling (from scratch):
250g grated pineapple
150g sugar (or to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2-1 teaspoon cornstarch
for the pineapple filling (from canned crushed pineapple)
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup granulated sugar (or more to taste)
1-1.5 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
To prepare the pineapple filling,
Bring to a boil grated pineapple, sugar and lemon juice. Let it simmer for 30 minutes or until it thickens.Taste to see if it has achieved the desired sweetness. Add more sugar when necessary. Sieve in half a teaspoon of cornflour.
Let the pineapple filling cool to room temperature before using. It can also be kept in refrigerator for 1 week.
Pineapple filling from canned crushed pineapple:
Using low to medium heat, cook the drained crushed pineapple and sugar until most liquid has evaporated, and the mixture turned golden. Stirring constantly using a wooden spoon to avoid burning. Taste, and add more sugar when needed. Add in 1 to 1.5teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken the mixture.
Let cool to room temperature before using.
For the pastry:
Sieve all purpose flour, corn flour, salt and icing sugar into a medium bowl. Beat butter in a mixer until it turns light in color and fluffy.Add in egg yolks until well combined. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
Roll pineapple filling into small individual rounds. Turn dough out and roll into small rounds.Flatten the rounds and use it to cover the prepared filling.
Brush the unbaked rolls with egg wash.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/180ºC for 10 to 15 minutes or till lightly brown.