Ikan Bilis and Cheese Biscuits
MasterChef Asia and MasterChef Singapore Judge AUDRA MORRICE COOK & FEAST
Sharing food is the greatest act of community and connection. Breaking bread. Sharing a table. Feasts are a gathering of family and friends. People and culture. Creating connections. Food is a conduit. Food, however simple or extravagant, has the immense power of bringing people together. Thus, eating with family and friends old and new, is something we should strive to do frequently. This sense of food as conduit is at the essence of Audra Morrice’s food philosophy, and the thematic thread that seasons her second book of food, Cook & Feast.*
Audra gave up a successful twenty-year career in communications to reknit the threads that were unraveling inside her to work with food, applied for MasterChef, and became a finalist (Season 4). The show became a conduit of sorts that (re)connected Audra to food.
Fast-forward six years, and it’s this connection to food and cultural practice that has informed Cook & Feast. Audra was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother of Hock Chew descent, and to an Indian father, thus Cook & Feast is the product of someone growing up in a family of such cultural mix, an intersectional multicultural melting pot. Food has always been a big part of Audra’s life. This book therefore is a representation of the author herself.
Growing up, Audra’s family cooked every meal like a celebration. Feasts. Generous abundance. Plentiful and full of heart. Generational recipes passed down and preserved. Diversity, heritage, and culture, key ingredients on display on every plate of food, every plate a link back to lineage, history and past. Through food, we learn about culture, through culture we broaden our palettes and our minds. To cook and to feast is always an act cultural celebration. Community and connection.
The wonderfully eclectic recipes in this book, from Asian to Western, and those inspired by the other, are easy to follow yet produce exciting, striking, sumptuous and enticing dishes, suitable for daily meals and parties, big and small. Audra provides simple, practical principles in the organising and preparation of ingredients through to the cooking of dishes to make the processes in the kitchen stress free and enjoyable.
Lovingly compiled, Cook & Feast is a conduit to your feasts and your celebrations. Happy cooking and connecting with great food!
Ikan Bilis and Cheese Biscuits
Dried Anchovy and Cheese Biscuits
makes 70-80 tiny cookies
What can be more delicious than ikan bills and cheese cookies? These are more like a butter-based cracker and a perfect snack when you have friends over for drinks. Make them thin so they are crisp!
200 g (7 oz) plain flour
½ teaspoon freshly ground black
½ teaspoon freshly ground white
½ teaspoon hot paprika or
½ teaspoon shichimi togarashi
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
60 g (2 oz) sharp cheddar
cheese, finely grated
30 g (1 oz) ikan bilis (dried
anchovies), deep fried until
crispy, drained on paper towels
100 g (3.5 oz) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 180°C (355°F). Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Place the flour, spices, baking powder, salt and sugar in a food processor and blitz for 20 seconds. Add the cheddar and ikan bilis and pulse until roughly combined.
Add the butter and blitz until a dough is formed. You may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water for the dough to come together. In warmer climates, you may not need as much water.
Roll the dough out between 2 large plastic sheets to 3-mm (0.1-in) thick. Alternatively, you can sandwich the cookie dough with the ikan bilis filling by rolling the dough out between 2 large plastic sheets until 4-mm (1.5-in) thick. Sprinkle the filling over half the dough. Fold the other half over and roll to about 2-3 mm (0.8-1.2 in) thick. Using cookie cutters of different shapes, cut out cookies, grate over some parmesan cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Note: To obtain a finely grated cheddar cheese, place it in the freezer until it’s hard, then grate. Or, blitz in a food processor until finely ground.
In warmer climates, to make it easier to cut out the dough, cool the rolled out dough in the fridge or freezer until it’s firm enough.
Most dried ikan bilis are slightly salted. Rinse them well before frying them. The ikan bilis filling can be easily substituted with dried prawns. Ensure they are coarsely processed and deep-fried until crispy before using.