Saturday, 10 December 2011

Spiced Chocolate Chip Shortbread

HELLO AGAIN after two months dear foodies- yes, I am alive and eating still!

Firstly my sincerest apologies for my long absence- this course at the Actors Studio Drama School is as intense and all-consuming as its notorious reputation, leaving me no time to sleep let alone cook, photograph the results and blog as often as I would like. In fact, what I should be doing right now instead of writing this is study for our final Theatre History exam taking place in 3 days, but given the infectious Christmas air in New York, the deliciousness of these buttery morsels and my desire to end the neglect of this space ASAP, the sharing of this recipe has pushed its way to the top of my priority list.

The following is not an original creation but my twist on many other recipes I compared online- as a huge fan of shortbread I have to admit the results are everything shortbread should be: fragrant, crunchy yet melt-in-the-mouth, indulgent yet moreish, sweet yet salty and studded generously throughout with rich hits of dark chocolate. I have added 2 tsp of mixed spice and cut them into pretty shapes to inject some holiday spirit into it all, but if you prefer you can always omit the spice and slice into traditional bars.

Be sure to leave enough time for the butter to soften in advance and the dough to chill for 2 hours before baking.

Happy holidays!

Spiced Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Makes about 30 chunky pieces (my cookie cutters were about 2 1/2 inches long)

Whisk on medium speed with an electric mixer (or blend in a food processor) until smooth:
225g/2 sticks butter, at room temperature* (do NOT substitute with margarine)
85g (2/3 cup) icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*Tip- getting the butter soft first is essential if you're using a handheld whisk. If you forgot to take it out of the fridge early, stick to a food processor as the blades easily cut through hard butter anyway.

Fold in using a spatula (or pulse gently in a food processor) until a pliable dough is formed:
300g (2 cups) plain flour (or more if your dough is still sticky)
1 tsp mixed spice

Fold in roughly 125g (3/4 cup) dark chocolate chips.

Press the whole lot of dough into a large bowl, cover the surface completely with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

To bake:

1) Find a clean hard surface to roll your dough on (I place a sheet of cling film-usually the one that was covering the dough in the fridge-on my kitchen countertop). If you're lucky enough to have a marble table or worktop that is already clean, you can of course skip the plastic wrap.

2) Lightly dust the surface with some flour.

3) Using a spatula or a big metal spoon, scoop out a large mound of dough onto the floured surface. If you have the luxury of a spacious counter top, you can of course roll the entire amount of dough out at once- my kitchen is tiny so I find small sections at a time more manageable.

4) Pat the dough down firmly with your hands (a rolling pin is not needed but use one if you like) until it forms an even disk about 1/2 inch thick, dusting with a bit more flour if necessary. Cut into shapes using a knife or a cutter and arrange onto a cookie tray.

5) Gather all the leftover bits of dough into a ball, add another mound of dough and repeat step 4 until all the batter is used up.

Bake for 20 mins at 160 C/ 325F until pale golden, rotating the trays halfway so they brown evenly.

If desired, dust with icing sugar whilst the cookies are still warm for a snowy effect. Let cool.

Delight your friends with these homemade gifts, or proceed to stuff your face!:)

Monday, 10 October 2011

CLOSED: La Table Exquise- Bed Stuy's Best Kept Secret

This establishment is unfortunately no longer in operation.

La Table Exquise's Weekend Special French Toast: so good it should be illegal.
$5 per portion, or unlimited amounts (yes!) with the $19 Sunday brunch buffet

All-you-can-eat slider burgers served hot on homemade brioche, as many omelettes as you want cooked to your liking, a huge spread of salads and grilled wings and cereal and quiche and rolls and pastries AND juice and coffee and tea and to top it all off, endless heaps of buttery, caramelised, so-good-I-could-die French toast... all for $19, at a shop two minutes walk from where I've ended up living.

Holy wow. What a welcome to New York City, bless you foodie guardian angel!

I apologise dear readers that it has taken me a month to post any updates- since my arrival life in this new city has proven intense, exciting, exhausting and inspiring all at once, with my course at the Actors Studio Drama School living up to its notorious reputation of being tough and challenging (hence the lack of time for blogging). I assure you though that I have been doing my duty to eat as much as possible (ha!), and although I should be doing my homework I simply HAVE to share this little gem with all New Yorkers out there.

La Table Exquise- 370 Tompkins Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216
Tel: 347-663-6066

"Do or Die Bed-Stuy" is the last place you'd expect to find French baking at its best, but I am not kidding when I say this little nondescript joint is home to the flakiest croissants and pain au chocolat as well as the most sublime desserts (5-layer chocolate cake anyone?) that you can get your hands on. The 11am-4pm all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch also redefines the meaning of "buffet"- far from being a way for restaurants to use up the week's leftovers, mega-talented Chef Sebastien whips up hot omelettes, slider burgers on cute little baby brioche buns and that unbelievable French toast using his own homemade baguettes at your demand.

The menu varies from time to time, but if you love good grub La Table Exquise is a must-try. Go go go, before the crowds find out.

My brunch buffet plate- serving number one :)

Chef Sebastien's alluring dessert cabinet- selection varies daily.
Prices range from $1 (for chocolate mousse cups) to $4

The sublime 5-layer chocolate cake- $4

Profiterole with hazelnut cream (chocolate eclair and pistachio pear tart in the background)

Croissants and pain au chocolat, piping hot from the oven- $2.75 each

La Table Exquise- 370 Tompkins Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216
(Nearest station: Nostrand Avenue, Kingston-Throop Aves)
Tel: 347-663-6066

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Mini Sam Tan Kitchen is Moving to New York!

Dearest foodies,

Just a quick note to share that after 2 great years cooking/baking and sharing recipes from my London flat, The Mini Sam Tan Kitchen will now be moving to NYC as I have been accepted into the Actors Studio Drama School MFA programme!

I am currently doing all I can to raise the fees I need (check out my official fundraising site at, and as a part of these efforts I am holding an online bake sale with several new items not previously available on the Goodies list. Please do check the list out below if cake is your kind of thing :)

In the meantime, if there are any foodies reading this in New York and would like to share their favourite haunts (I have been given a huge list by friends already- honestly worried for my health once I get there haha) please do hit me back, I'd love to hear from fellow lovers of all things delicious!

Happy eating y'all!

Samantha Tan


*To place your order, please email me at or drop me a comment here in case it goes to Spam.

*In general 2 days notice is enough, and you can either come pick them up or pay for my travel/time to deliver to you. All cakes come on a proper silver cake board in a white box, and anything else e.g. candles/ writing in icing etc can also be arranged.

Fresh Fruit Cream Cake- £30 per 8" cake (fruit can be customised)

Nutella Mousse Gateau- £30 per cake (8")

Malteser Gateau- £30 per cake (8")

Moist Carrot Banana Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
£20 per cake (8")

Blueberry Cheesecake- £20 per cake (7")

Ultra Rich Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake-£18 per cake (7")

Chilled Oreo Cheesecake- £18 per cake (7")

Victoria Sponge with Fresh Strawberries- £15 per cake

Baked New York Cheesecake- £15 per cake (7")

Orange Cheesecake with Gingernut Base (also available with
normal digestive base)- £15 per cake (7")

Golden Lemon Cheesecake- £15 per cake (7")

Orange Chiffon Cake- £8.50 per cake (8 1/2")

Pandan Chiffon Cake- £8.50 per cake (8 1/2")

Soft Chocolate Cream Cupcakes- £1.50 each, £15 per batch (12 cupcakes)

Crunchy Crumb Banana Muffins- £1.50 each, £15 per batch (12 muffins)

Savoury Cheddar & Herb Muffins- £1.50 each, £15 per batch (12 muffins)

Chunky Chocolate Brownies- THE single most in-demand item among friends! :)
£1.50 per slice (2" x 3"), £18 per batch (15 slices)

Cheesecake Brownies- £1.50 per slice (2" x 3"), £18 per batch (15 slices)

Handmade Oreo Chunk Cheese Truffles- £9 per box of 36
(Choice of white, milk, dark or mixed selection)

Malteser Cake Bars- £1.50 per square, £18 per batch (15 squares)

Moist Vegan Banana Walnut Brownies (dairy free)- £1.50 per slice (1.5" x 3.5")

Mini Chocolate Meringues- £5 for a box of 20 pieces

Mini Coconut Meringues- £5 for a box of 20 pieces

American Chocolate Chunk Cookies- £1 per cookie, £15 a batch (20 cookies)

Giant Chewy Oat & Currant Cookies- £1 per cookie, £15 a batch (20 cookies)

Spiral Curry Puffs (Epok-Epok/Karipap Pusing)- £1 each, £25 for a batch of 30

Kuih Ketayap/Dadar/Gulung (Malaysian Pandan Crepes with Coconut)- £5 for 6


Kuih Nastar (Rolled Pineapple Jam Tarts)- £15 per box of 30
Homemade jam slow-cooked from fresh whole pineapples and fragrant spices, encased
in a
hand-shaped all butter crumbly pastry

Open-Faced Pineapple Jam Tarts- £15 per box of 32
Made with the same blobs of scrumptious homemade jam as the Kuih Nastar,
only sunny side up with a
patterned pastry base

Bakkwa/Rougan (Chinese Dried Pork Jerky)-
£15 per box of 250g
Free of the colouring and preservatives usually present in mass-produced versions,
this delicious
favourite of Malaysians (a
lso known in Cantonese as "yoke gon" or
"long yoke")
is home-marinated and charcoal-smoked until the perfect
flavour and texture is achieved. A Chinese New Year staple!

Fah Sang Peng (Peanut Cookies)-
£12 per box of 30 or
£20 per large box of 60
Extremely addictive, be warned! Fragrant, crumbly and deliciously nutty, made the
proper way
with ground whole peanuts (none of this peanut butter business)

Kuih Bangkit (Tapioca Coconut Cookies)- £15 per box of 50
Handmade traditionally shaped little cookies with a crisp bite and powdery melt-in-the-mouth texture.
Aromatic and tasty with the definitive flavours of tapioca, pandan and coconut.

Almond London - £12 per box of 24 or £20 for 2 boxes
One for the chocoholics- a whole roasted almond encased in biscuit, topped
with melted dark chocolate and chopped nuts

Crispy Beehive Cookies (Kuih Ros/ Kuih Loyang)- £9 per box of 15, £15 for 2 boxes
Large and pretty honeycomb/rosette shaped crunchies, deep-fried until satisfyingly crisp
from a batter of
aromatic coconut milk and rice flour.

Buttery Coconut Cornflake Crunchies- £8 per box of 24
A version of the family favourite Mum taught me growing up! :) A crunchy and
fragrant blend of dessicated coconut and crushed cornflakes
with the added bite of sweet raisins

Mini Honey Cornflake Cups- £6 per box of 30, or £10 for 2 boxes
Delectable little bitesize bundles of cornflakes coated in a buttery honey caramel, then baked
until crunchy. Exceedingly moreish- expect to eat a whole box in one sitting.