Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home |Volume 5, Issue 50, Tuesday, December 21, 2010




Chronicles of Sam Q

By Sam Q

Dearest Diary,
Whenever I see my editor's name flashing on the phone, I get a panic attack. I am like, “Oh my God! What do I have to deliver?” Or, most of the time…“Do I have anything to deliver?”

To get work out of me, my sweet-souled editor has to cross many mammoths of mountains and bridges to get to the Holy Grail. I feel for her.

Anyway, getting back to the flashing light, she reminded me that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was galloping towards Bangladesh all the way from North Pole to deliver Christmas presents to all the children who had written to Santa. I can just about imagine Santa in a green 'sando' t-shirt (more popularly known as, genji), and red shorts, sweating and bellowing; Ho-Ho-Ho, and leaving gaily wrapped presents near the air-conditioner. Yeah! Heck! We have to improvise. No fireplace. Hello!…. Air conditioner.

So, again, getting back to Christmas, I personally had been exposed to the Xmas culture while living in Hong Kong during my early married years.

That was the time when my son had asked me why I had not named him John, Steve or Richard? (Too much of ex-pat influence). So, Xmas was and still is, a most loved celebration in Hong Kong, which was celebrated with due pomp, reverence and gaiety. After their Chinese New Year festivities, Christmas comes a close second.

So there I was buying presents for my son's friends, and then came his teacher and slowly the local fish lady was added to the list. With each passing year the list kept getting longer.

Eventually, I started getting presents back.
Don't get me wrong Diary, its not that I don't appreciate the thoughts behind the gifts, but there are certain rules for gift giving during Christmas that one should follow. And who better than me to pass on such prophetic fallacies.

#1. Never ever give fitness equipment to a fat person. The poor recipient of the gift is looking forward to the calorie-laden dinner or lunch that is being prepared with such love, gusto and enthusiasm, and here, what message are you giving that person? Especially if that person already has a poor body image of him or herself. (Picture me… shuddering all over.)

#2. And please, if you at all have to give food as gifts, make sure you are at least a decent cook and the presentation should be 'fantabulous'. Do not torture people with bad food. And if the food is bad at least the container should be worth keeping.

#3. And please do not give local handicrafts as gifts to people whose houses are either decorated like Buckingham Palace, all gilt, gold and crystal, or Georigio Armani's black and while retro pad. Believe you me, the amount of Xmas gifts people have to re-cycle. Yeesh!

#4. And lastly, if you do recycle, please do it with astuteness. If the gift is in a box, check inside to see whether a name card has been slipped in by the original gift giver to make sure that you know that it has been given by them. Many a times I have discovered two cards in a gift given to me. One on top, a card by the person who has come to my party and inside a card from a person I do not know.

I am going to pen off quickly today Diary as I am going to do some early baking because, the son is arriving before Christmas and I want to be ready with all his favourite edible props. But, I will still not call him... Richard.

So have a good day the Sam Q way.

Lemon tea cake with glace icing
4 eggs
275g castor sugar
Zest of 3 lemon, plus lemon juice
275g flour, sifter
1 tsp baking powder
130ml cream
65g butter, melted
200g icing sugar.

Heat oven 180°c. Grease cake pan. Whisk eggs and sugar until foamy. Add lemon zest and whisk in flour and baking powder. Whisk in cream and gently fold in the batter.
Pour mixture in cake pan and bake in the oven for 50-60mins or until tops of the cakes are golden brown and springy to touch.

Remove from oven and cool.

To make icing, mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to form a thick paste. Spread over the top of the cooled cake and leave to set.

Walnut coffee cupcakes
For the cupcakes
170g butter, softened
170g castor sugar
Pinch of salt
3 medium eggs
170g self-raising flour, sifted
85g walnuts, finely chopped, plus walnut halves for garnish
For the icing
3 teaspoons instant coffee
125g butter, softened
85g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 170°c/mark 3. Arrange 20 fairy-cake cases on 2 fairy-cake or slightly larger muffin trays.

Beat the butter, sugar and salt until pale and fluffy, then gradually beat in two eggs. Fold in one tablespoon of flour, then beat in the third egg. Tip in the rest of the flour and the chopped walnuts and lightly fold into the butter mixture.

Using a spoon, divide the mixture between the paper cases. Bake for 15 minutes or until the mixture is firm and springy to touch. Leave to cool on a cake rack

Meanwhile, for the icing, dissolve the instant coffee in 11/2 teaspoons boiling water. Leave until cold. Beat the softened butter and icing sugar until fluffy, then beat in the coffee.

Once the cakes are completely cold, spread the icing over the top of each one and decorate with a walnut half.

Butter cakes with cream frosting
Preparation: 45min.
Bake: 15min
Cool: 5min
Oven: 350°f
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
11/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1 recipe cream frosting, below

Preheat oven to 350°f. Line twenty-four 21/2 inch muffin cups with paper bake cups.

In large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium-high for about 1 minute. Add sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add flour mixture in two additions, alternating with milk and beating on low after each addition until combined.

Fill lined cups about 2/3 full. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Fill and/or frost as directed. After frosting, refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

Cream frosting- In large mixing bowl beat ½ cup (1 stick) softened with mixer for 30 seconds. Gradually beat in one cup powdered sugar. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp milk. Use at once or refrigerate up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before using.

Cream sandwiches
For the cookies:
13/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
10 tbsp (11/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla essence
For the filling:
71/2 ounces best-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Make cookies: Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Put butter and sugar in the bowl. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla. Mix until smooth. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

Using a 1-inch ice-cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake until golden and just set, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on parchment on wire racks.

Melt white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat; whisk in cream in a slow, steady stream. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Assemble cookies: Spread 1 tablespoon filling onto the bottom of one cookie; sandwich with another. Repeat. Cookies can be refrigerated between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Samina Quasem for arranging the photoshoot



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