Tonight I'm hosting a Girls Night In, with a group of close girlfriends. I've set myself the rather ambitious challenge of creating a full Chinese takeaway from scratch, the magnitude of which as always, only hit me after I had committed myself to the cause.
After batting a few text messages around, to find out what my guests normally order in from their local takeaway, then making a few calculated choices, this is the menu that I have arrived at... recipes for all the dishes listed will be posted up here over the next few weeks as I get chance to write them up;
- Chicken Satay Skewers
- Chinese BBQ Ribs
- Sweet and Sour King Prawns
- Chicken with Cashews
- Sweet Chilli Crispy Beef
- Egg Fried Rice
- Chow Mein
- Pineapple Sorbet
- Coconut Ice Cream
Last night, as an addition, I decide to attempt to make a batch of fortune cookies to really add a Chinese restaurant feel to the meal. Making fortune cookies is not unlike making Tuile biscuits, there is a simple batter, a knack to getting the biscuits thin enough before baking, and then the hot biscuit has to be shaped quickly before it starts to cool. This for me was the tricky part, and I had slightly tingly fingertips by the time I had finished my batch, however there really is now way to avoid this, just carefully pick up the hot cookie and work fast. Here are my finished cookies... I made two batches, and the first were a little too thick, but they definitely improved in batch two.
|Homemade Fortune Cookies|
To make approx 12 - 15 Fortune Cookies...
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 tablespoons plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cornflour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons caster sugar
3 teaspoons water
The most important thing to start making your fortune cookies is of course the fortunes. Write or print your fortunes on thin strips of paper, and then fold and fold again to be roughly 1 inch long. I left Gary to write the fortunes, so that they would be as much a surprise to me as anyone... this could be interesting.
Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees c, and grease a large baking tray.
To make the cookie batter, place the egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts and the vegetable oil in a large bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until frothy but still runny. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl sift the flour, add the sugar, cornflour, and salt, and mix well.
Add the water to the flour mixture and stir through. This will start to clump together, don't worry, it's supposed to do that...
Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg whites, beating continuously, until a smooth batter is formed. The batter should be of a dropping consistency.
Now, using a tablespoon measure, drop an even tablespoon of mixture well spaced out on the baking tray, I would recommend making about 5 cookies at a time, firstly because the mixture will spread, and secondly, because you need to move quickly to shape the cookies before they cool and become brittle.
Bake the cookies for 5 - 10 minutes, checking the progress constantly. As soon as they start to colour on the edges as shown, they are ready to mould.
Using a spatula, remove all the cookies from the tray (if you only do them one at a time they will crisp up, and not come off the tray in one piece.
...flip the cookie upside down...
...place a fortune in the centre of the cookie...
,,,fold in half, pressing the edges together...
...bend over a bowl like so...
...place the shaped cookie in a muffin tin, or half sphere mould to keep its shape whilst it cools.
Repeat the process until you have used all your batter, or all your fortunes.
The recipe for these cookies is very easy, the process a little more tricky, but only due to the speed needed, and the handling of the hot cookie. They are however well worth making, they taste great (of course I had to sample) and I have no doubt that they will add the final authentic flourish to our party tonight... and there goes the doorbell!