Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Martha Stewart of Singapore

I spent Saturday with Martha Stewart's twin.

Ok, not really.

They look nothing alike, but their baking abilities mirror each other to a "T". So for that, I've crowned my friend Sandra as the Martha of Singapore.

In her kitchen, she makes everything from scratch. Everything. No joke. Cans and mixes do not live in Sandra's pantry. She also only uses fresh ingredients. It's equal parts impressive and intimidating to the girl whose favorite cookies involve a cake mix and take less than thirty minutes.

So when Sandra invited me to help her make her signature pineapple tarts for Christmas this year, I jumped at the chance. I desperately needed to expand my cooking horizons.

She was even kind enough to make the whole day a learning experience for me and allow room for me to potentially mess up her Christmas tradition.

She's a sweet-tart. (Ha ha, get it? Lame? Ah-hem. Sorry.)

To start, we had to make pastry dough. Now, I'm a "run to the store and buy the pre-made, refrigerated dough" kind of girl. This whole "make dough from scratch" world got me a little anxious.

Sandra called me silly and handed me the ingredients anyway.

So with a bag of flour and two blocks of butter, I dove in. She told me to put everything in a bowl and just mix it with my hands until it was dough. Easy enough.

This is what I came up with:
(Oh and by the way, some of these pictures are blurry because I was taking pictures with dough covered fingers.)

So yeah. You see that mess all over the counter? That's how good I was at that task. I also had a flour and dough covered gut from leaning against the counter. It was a beautiful site.

Then, the expert, meaning "Martha", took over to roll out the dough cuz I was sure I wouldn't do it right.

Next was the pressing stage of the lesson. To make the tart base, we used a plastic press to push the dough into a mini tart-like shape.

Sandra demonstrated it for me first.
Then I tried.

And failed.
The two at the top are hers. The two at the bottom are mine.

I was fired.

So I tried a new job.

I, instead, took the tart bases (pressed by Sandra) and filled them with pineapple jam.

Sandra makes her own pineapple jam from fresh pineapples that she gets from the wet market. I missed that part of the tart making lesson because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here's the jam:
It smelled amazing. I really wanted to eat the jam with a spoon. But I didn't. Sandra already thinks I'm weird. I didn't need to give her more reasons to think so. Plus, I'd already been fired from one task, I didn't need to put my other job in jeopardy.

So I just kept to putting the jam in the tarts — instead of my mouth.

Then after I filled over 50 mini tarts, it was time to brush them with Sandra's special egg wash.

I've only ever used egg whites for an egg wash, but Sandra uses the yolks mixed with a bit of butter. She said it gives the tarts a nice color.

Since I don't know anything, I just did what I was told.

She was right. The wash gave them a really pretty golden color and made them look so scrumptious.

They were like a party in my mouth. The pastry part is the perfect blend of crusty and buttery while the fruit is sweet and tart. We both ate way more than I'd admit on the internet.

And then she sent me home with more.

I've since had to ration it out and put some in the freezer to keep my butt in the same size jeans. That won't last long though. Those tarts are still calling to me.

Those suckers are addictive. There needs to be a 12 step program to get off of the tarts.

So I declare my first Singaporean cooking experience a success.

Just don't ask "Martha". I'm sure I messed up a bunch of things.

But she'd never admit it. She's way nicer than the real Martha.


Anonymous said...

congrats on your first homemade peranakan snack. they're not easy to accomplish.

Brad Farless said...

It looks easy but I have a feeling I'd mess it up too. Congrats! They look delicious!

Anonymous said...

This is my sister's favorite but I don't. I used to buy during CNY for just for her. I baked once here and our friends love it so much. I did a few types of CNY cookies too. You might want to try melting moment and peanut cookies. They are GOOD!

- Jen

Anonymous said...

are you going to create a new blog when u move back to kansas?

Megan said...


I'm still trying to decide. I'd love to, but I don't know what angle I'd write from. An American girl in Kansas doesn't seem to be as exciting. I'm open to hearing ideas!

My Three Sons said...

Those really look delicious!!! I think I would mess up a few times as well.

Debbie said...

Those look sooooo good. Makes my mouth water just looking at the picture. I don't suppose she gave you the recipe, huh???

Beau Lotus said...

Those tarts looked great and I'm sure they tasted lovely too. And I finally understood how they managed to get that hollow in the tart base - it's a special cutter!

How I've missed my CNY goodies...

YUN ZHEN! said...

I recently chanced upon your blog a few minutes ago and have been reading your archives! The viewpoints are very interesting, since I'm a Singaporean! But it seems weird you store pineapple tarts in the freezer! Normally, we just store them in airtight containers :D

Megan said...

Yun Zhen, we stored them in the freezer because Sandra sent us home with soooo many. It's just me and my husband at home and it takes us a while to eat stuff in large quantities. Sandra suggested storing them in the freezer to keep them from molding before we finished them off.