what i’m cooking…Michelle Tsang

Michelle Tsang – who you might recognise as @petitesweetsnz from Instagram – was a finalist in The Foodies last year for her blog, Hopes Dreams Aspirations.

For my day job, I work in urban planning. Creating links with and within communities is what I like about my work. Being able to help and train others to fulfill their full potential gives me job satisfaction.

I’m also a foodie. Home economics was my best subject (not the sewing part though!) and I still remember the rapturous feeling when our team got top marks for a cornflake cookie I developed in Year 7. My parents and I spent a lot of time cooking together and my dad taught me photography. It started with my pet hamsters, landscape and portraits, but soon I found myself turning to food.

I started my blog just after my daughter was born and now she helps with the photo shoots – it’s fun to have someone to bounce ideas off (she is rather creative) and I like using her as my hand model, eagerly tearing into a piece of baking or warmly hugging a bowl of soup.

I have found it comforting in these stressful times to shoot simply-styled recipes – what we are currently cooking and eating at home. Luckily, we have enough food in the house to last us some time. This isn’t due to any last minute panic-buying, more the result of my inability to resist good deals.

One thing I will need to get soon is vegetables. I do envy my friends who have edible gardens; I have always failed to grow much at all, even mint which is supposedly hardy. Luckily I have some frozen veges tucked away in the freezer, so I can hold off venturing to my local supermarket.

Our church has gone virtual from the Sunday before the lock down – joining in the singing and sermon from our living room was certainly a new experience. People have asked how we will celebrate Easter? We shall see. Where there is a will, there is a way. Where there is danger, there is opportunity. We are all strong, intelligent beings and will adapt.

Fortune Cookies
These can be made with the bare essentials – leftover egg whites from the last time you used egg wash or the remnant bit of flour you had from scraping the bottom of the bin. Fortune cookies aren’t really popular in my country of birth, nor my home for the past 25 years. They are more of an American thing, I think, but it’s nonetheless fun whenever we receive them, for we all know therein lies a secret verse with which our ‘fortune’ is told.

We are not at all superstitious so in making these, we scratched our heads for appropriate words to include. I actually wrote “there will be sunshine after rain” on one as it succinctly reflected my life experiences in the past few years.

A word of warning: these cookies are very hot to handle and need to be shaped very fast. Don’t try doing more than 2 to 3 at a time or you will risk disappointment when you can only fold the third into a taco. You can also make lots of little tuile discs or rolls – they are extremely good as snacks or desserts. If you’re like me and can’t bear to have the oven on for 8 mins and cooking just a measly 2 cookies, do 2 trays but place them in at 3 minutes apart. This means when the first tray is done, you will have 3 minutes to shape the 2 cookies before the next tray is ready to come out. Also you can add more batter on the trays, shape 2 cookies and just flip the rest into tuiles.

  • 105g egg whites (3 size 7 eggs)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter or rice bran oil
  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp cold water (may or may not need)

Heat the oven to 170C. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking sheet or baking paper. Write or print fortunes on small strips of paper (they should be 5cm x 1cm).

Put the egg whites, vanilla and butter into the bowl of stand mixer (or an electric hand whisk) and whisk until frothy (about 30 seconds).

Measure the flour, cornflour, sugar and a good pinch of salt into a separate bowl, and sift into the egg white mixture. Whisk thoroughly, until the batter is smooth and falls in ribbons.

Using a small cookie dough scoop, put a tablespoon of mixture onto the lined baking sheet. With the back of the scoop spread the mixture out by drawing circles, forming a 8-10cm disc. Repeat to form a second disc. Keep them spaced apart.

As the cookies need to be shaped quickly while they are still hot and can be hard to handle, have only a maximum of 3 on each baking sheet. Bake for 8 mins until the edges of the cookies become golden.

Using a thin dough scraper or palette knife, flip each disc over once they are out the oven. In order for them to be shaped they need to remain soft, so you will need to work fast.

Place the fortune in the middle of the disc. Fold the disc in half to lightly contain the fortune.

Quickly place the centre of the folded-over disc on the rim of a cup and pull the 2 sides down gently against the sides of the cup to form the fortune cookie shape. Hold in place for a few seconds, then transfer the cookies into mini muffin tins to ensure they keep their shape while they cool.

Repeat with the remaining cookie mixture. Store in an airtight container.

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