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Girls' Best Friend

Bright and sparkly. Gemstones came to my mind when I was removing this Dragon Fruit and Orange jelly from the mould. Like a combination of gemstones...rubies, amber and diamonds, all in one!

Dragon's Eyes

The literal translation for the name of a small brown, juicy exotic fruit from the lands of Asia, known as Longan in Chinese, packed into these muffins

Nostalgia

A taste from the humble beginnings, the Long Bean Rice brings back beautiful memories of the yesteryears

Light and Fluffy

Lemon, Yogurt and Cranberries~a nice blend of flavours in a light and fluffy chiffon cake

Bread Stories

Asian style buns ~ Popular as breakfast food or snack, sweet/savoury fillings wrapped in soft, cottony bread

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Game for Stinky Food?



Thanks for dropping by, i am curious to know if stinky stuff appeals :) By stinky I mean strong smelling food that some people love but others can't even stand a whiff of it.  Any within your palate?? I am sure some of them would come to mind by now.  I always wonder how they ended up as something edible.  It amazes me how the penchant for stinky stuff is something universal as one can find so many types of stinky food across the globe.  Back home, durians the king of fruits would be on top on list.     There would be other seafood based ones like the belacan (dried prawn paste), cencaluk (shrimp sauce) and salted fish etc.  The Asians (Chinese/Korean/Japanese) would have fermented stuff like tofu, eggs and beans albeit fermented/preserve in their own unique ways.  In the west cheese and fermented fish like those in Sweden or Norway would come to mind.  

Come to think of it, I am quite a 'stinky' person too, I have quite a few favourites, i adore durians and i love the Chinese fermented yellow beans and tofu (aka fu-yee in cantonese).   They are really good as seasoning.  It gives such an exotic flavour to food.  The fermented tofu that i am talking about here is not the one made popular in Hong Kong, which are mostly eaten deep-fried and dipped in sauce.  Now, that one is stinky brought to the next level...this one is a no-no for me :)  The one that i am talking about is little cubes of tofu that is soaked in brine and bottled. When mashed it has a creamy texture.

So, allow me to share this chicken dish that is made with a tiny bit of stinky stuff.  Give it a try, it's not that stinky. Actually it smells and taste good with a combination of some chinese wine, soy sauce and honey to give it a nice blend of flavours. Enough to say little one had 2 bowls of rice with this :)

Recipe
Source : Christine's Recipe (with changes to liking)

Ingredients




  • 600 gm chicken pieces
  • 1 piece fermented beancurd, mashed into paste (chili fermented)
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 slices ginger


  • Seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100 ml water


  • Steps
    1. Heat oil over medium heat. 
    2. Add ginger and fermented beancurd paste, saute to fragrant. 
    3. Add chicken. Stir to combine and cook until both sides are light brown. 
    4. Pour in wine and quickly stir to combine. Add seasoning. 
    5. When it boils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked and sauce thickens. 
    6. Stir in honey (use enough to liking).
    7. Enjoy!

    Saturday, 10 December 2011

    All my Love with a scoop of Mocha Ice Cream?



    Literally lovely breakfast it was that morning, a heart shaped muffin (yup, it's a muffin not cake) topped with a scope of mocha ice-cream!  Imagine coming down to a table which has been beautifully set with this or even being served in bed (in my case, i will have to be the one serving and not the one being served unfortunately), romantic huh?  

    The idea came from my little one, he was helping me in the kitchen when i made this.  I asked him to help me get some muffin cups, he came back with this heart shaped mini cake pan and suggested using them, reason being it's more environmental friendly, no wastage of the paper cups.  I wasn't too sure about baking muffins in cake pans, never done it before.  I thought it would not go terribly wrong, at the most it won't rise up so much  From the way it turned out, it doesn't look bad, does it?

    This was also a healthy treat, orange blueberry yoghurt muffin.   Nice fruity flavour and with the addition of yoghurt it was soft and moist, topping it with some ice-cream (also little one's idea) made it even more delish!  

    Give it a shot, it's simple, all you need to do is a simple mixing of wet and dry ingredients.  No beating required as the recipe uses oil.  All done within 45 minutes (includng baking time) and i bet it will touched the hearts of the ones being served :)


    Orange Blueberry Yoghurt Muffins
    Recipe
    Source : Anncoo Journal  (adapted from Food for Tots)
    Note : My variation in blue, i like it a little less sweeter, but you can stick to original, i think it won't be too sweet either)

    • 250g Plain flour (cake flour)
    • 3 tsp Baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 120g Castor sugar (100g)
    • 2 Large eggs (at room temperature)
    • 4 tbsp Fresh orange juice
    • 2 tsp Orange Zest
    • 180ml Extra light olive oil/sunflower oil (canola oil)
    • 1 tsp Vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
    • 160g Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
    • 125g Frozen bluerries (1 punnet) (fresh blueberries)
    Method

    1. Sieve flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl.  Add in sugar and salt.  Mix well.  Set aside.
    2. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs,  add in yoghurt, vanilla extract, orange juice, zest and oil gradually and mix until it just combined. Be careful not to overbeat the mixture. 
    3. Add the wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula, combine the ingredients with fold in method until they are well combined and no traces of flour. Stir in blueberries and mix well. Do not over-mix the batter. The batter should be thick ("spoonable" not "pourable").
    4. Use a spoon to scoop batter into muffin cups until 80% full.
    5. Bake at preheated oven 190C for 20-25 mins.

    Saturday, 3 December 2011

    Simple Chinese Pork Ribs Stew



    A classic dish among us Chinese with many variations among the clans.   Essentially a meat dish (pork, chicken or duck) but sometimes one get extras like hard-boiled eggs, tofu puffs or shitake mushrooms thrown in.  This is one dish that I am sure many of us grew up with.    The choice of meat stewed in a combination of soy sauce and spice makes it very aromatic and tender. It goes very well with steamed rice or congee.   The steps to make this dish are easy and manageable plus one can make a bigger portion to keep for more than 1 meal as the flavor gets more intense when left overnight.  This makes it a good choice for busy mums who want to prepare some good home-cooked dish despite their busy schedules. Add a green to this and you will have one complete and balanced meal for the family. 

    Although this is a familiar dish, I referred Ann of Anncoo Journal's recipe for it, simply because she has good recipes for everything, never failing me! Do hop over to her blog for a more exact recipe, I didn't follow everything to a T.  A good choice indeed, it tasted really good. Thanks, Ann!

    Recipe
    Source : Anncoo Journal

    Note : I used 500g of pork ribs with the same amount of other ingredients and the flavour was just nice for our family

    Ingredients:
    • 1 Star anise
    • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
    • 2 shallots, chopped
    • Ginger, 3 slices
    • 2 Dried chilli - remove seed (optional)
    • 400-600ml Water
    • 600g Pork Ribs (Ann recommends with some fats in it although I trimmed off most of it) , cut to about 4" length
    Seasoning:
    • 1 tbsp White vinegar
    • 1 tbsp Light soy sauce
    • 1 1/2tbsp Dark soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp Oyster sauce
    • 1 tbsp Sugar
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • 1/2 tsp Pepper
    • 1/4 tsp Five spice powder
    • 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Hua Tiao Chiew)
    • 1 tbsp Corn flour + 2 tbsp water
    Method
    1. Marinate pork ribs with seasoning for 2 hours.
    2. Heat wok with about 2 tbsp cooking oil.  Add ginger, garlic, shallot, star anise and dried chilli, fry till fragrant.
    3. Pour in the pork rib together with seasoning sauce, fry well and add about 400ml water.
    4. Bring to boil and simmer at low heat for about one hour or cook the pork rib till tender (add a little more water when pork rib dries up a little).


    Saturday, 19 November 2011

    When the Vikings come marching in...



    Steamed Buns are popular favourites among us Chinese for our breakfast. Typically they can divided into 2 categories, the round shaped ones with fillings in them are known as Pau while the non-filled ones, traditionally rolled in a log shape and cut into pieces before steaming are known as Mantau.   However, the line differentiating them has gone blurry, paus can come without fillings and vice versa for mantaus.  They come in various flavours and shapes never imagined too!  Like this one that I saw at Wendy's, a little like the Vikings' helmets to me,  I thought they look cute :)

    These steamed buns are not filled.  They had a nice sweet fragrance and natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes making them pleasing although eaten plain.  You can cut them up and spread some jam or dip them in gravy.

    Verdict? They were really yummy! They rose beautifully and were soft but chewy.  They stayed soft until the next day!  I saved half the portion in a ziplock after shaping them and steamed them for freshly steamed and piping hot buns the next morning.

    This was the first time I steamed them in a bamboo steamer basket which I have been planning to get for awhile.  I have read that they give the best  results for paus and other steam cakes.  After finding one the right size which I bought for RM30, I couldn't wait to try it out.   This basket sits on top of another pot of boiling water, steam then enters through the open slates at the bottom of the basket and contained in the basket by its lid.  Bamboo absorbs condensation ensuring water does not drip back onto the buns which allowed them to rise so beautifully without any crinkles! I love the effect, I am really convinced that these baskets do make a difference, well bought indeed!

    Take a closer look at these babies :)


    Recipe
    Source : Table for 2 or more... (this is 1/2 the portion which gave me roughly around 16 buns...can't remember exactly)


    • 250gm pau flour (cake flour)
    • 125gm steamed orange sweet potato
    • 50gm sugar
    • 1/2 Tbsp double action baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 20gm shortening, melted
    • 6gm yeast 
    • 1/4 tsp sugar
    • 75ml water
    If like me, you are using a machine to knead, skip steps 1-7 but follow through step 6.  I used my breadmaker to knead the dough, I put everything in the recommended order, i.e. liquid (water, melted shortening), sugar, salt, followed by flour (sifted and mix with baking powder), mashed sweet potato and lastly yeast.  


    1. Proof yeast with 1/4 tsp sugar and water until it froths.
    2. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. 
    3. Knead in steamed sweet potatoes. 
    4. Flour mixture will look crumbly. 
    5. Pour in frothy yeast mixture and combine to form a dough. Knead until dough no longer sticky and turns smooth. 
    6. Add more flour if it's too sticky or more water(by the teaspoon) if it's way too dry, (if unable to gather all the flour into a dough).  
    7. When dough is smooth, knead in melted shortening, until dough no longer feels oily.
    8. Leave to proof until double, about an hour.
    9. Punch down and knead for another minute. Divide dough into 35gm pieces, and shape as u like.  For these helmets, roll the dough flat in a triangular shape, roll them up and pinch two ends together tightly to make sure they don't open up.  Hop over to Wendy's for a pictorial guide on how to shape.  Other easier methods would be making them into round balls or just rolling them up without trying to pull it into a triangular shape.  
    10. Leave to proof until shaped bun doubles. 
    11. Steam on high heat for 12-15 minutes.

    Monday, 14 November 2011

    Say Peace!~Ginger Cupcakes


    This post is dedicated to Aspiring Bakers theme for November.  Wanted to take this opportunity to learn something new and hopefully interesting enough to share with others.    I settled for this although I knew this would be something I would like but the boys wouldn't fancy :)  But we deserve to act selfish at least once in awhile, don't we?




    I have never tried baking with ginger although I love ginger cookies.   No, not those little men that come marching out around this time of the year but those small round ones with cracks all over them.  I love them with my coffee.  Ginger makes one warm and fuzzy, which I thought would be good at this time of the year, wintery or rainy.

    So, I had a go at this one.  Verdict?   Nice, I love the spice in them.  It was soft and moist too.  Although it has 3 forms of ginger in it (ground, fresh and crystallized), I would have preferred it to be more intense, will spike up the amount of ginger powder the next time around.  The other thing that I  I would change is to cut down on the amount of sugar, it was a tad too sweet for me.

    Recipe
    Seen on Alpine Berry with recipe from Fine Cooking issue #64  
    (Half the recipe yielded 12 cupcakes)

    • 4 ounces (1 cup + 3 tbsp) sifted cake flour
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/8 tsp baking powder
    • 6 tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
    • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
    • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
    • 1-inch cube fresh ginger, finely grated (plus any juice) (Took juice only)
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped


    1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
    2. Sift together cake flour, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
    3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest, grated fresh ginger, and vanilla extract and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. 
    4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in one-third of the flour mixture. Fold in half of the sour cream. Repeat ending with the last third of the flour mixture. Fold in the chopped crystallized ginger.
    5. Fill the cupcake liners approximately three-quarters full. Bake until light golden brown and cupcake springs back when lightly pressed, about 16-20 minutes. 
    6. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

    Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 6 ounces Philly cream cheese, softened at room temp.
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
    • 2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
    • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (1/2 cup)
    1. Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. 
    2. Mix in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar. 
    3. Continue to beat until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
    4. Frost cakes as desired.
    I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #13: Enjoy Cupcakes(November 2011) hosted by Min of Min's Blog.

    Update : I was pleasantly surprise to see these feature on Cupcakes Take the Cake :)

    Sunday, 6 November 2011

    A Small Fortune Perhaps?


    This post was supposed to be for Traditional Kuehs, Aspiring Bakers' theme for the month of October but as it is, I missed the boat.   Here's the story behind what inspired it...

    Fortune is very much a part of the Chinese culture.  Doubts? Most of you would have heard about the Chinese fortune cookie to begin with.   In our culture, so much is being centred around ways to ensure good fortunes get ushered into our lives...colors that we wear, words that we utter,  where and how we place stuff around.  Even the food that we put in our mouths are not spared, we make them in auspicious  colors, shapes and top it all with an auspicious sounding name in hopes for more fortunes to come.    It is amazing how every aspect of our lives can be tied it.   Somehow or rather, I feel a materialistic mindset or if i were to put it on a lighter node, it's this constant reminder of the importance of money/fear of insufficiency is subconsciously nurtured because of this culture.  It is a good motivating factor, but the i think the key is finding the balance.  When do we draw line?? I have no answer to this myself, striking a balance is a challenge.  Because there are things that we sacrifice in the pursuit for more fortunes, we can't have them all.   Is it worth the sacrifice?  I may not know or choose to belittle the price that I pay for now but would it be too late when I realise it?  Do I sound like a lost soul? I hope not :)


    This is one little cake that got itself caught in the fortune culture.  It is known as "Huat Ker" in my dialect, of which Huat means 'Prosper'.    This little steamed cake is suppose to bring good luck, to the ones making, giving and of course to those eating them too.  One thing that this little thing is sure to bring is ...inches if not fortune!   For those making them, there is no better reward then opening up your steamer to see a tray of beautifully  bloomed cakes, a sign of good fortune to come, so they say....

    Unfortunately, this was what greeted me when I opened mine.  Bloomed they did but they looked like buds rather than flowers to me!   Maybe God was trying to remind me, a small fortune was all that I need, don't get too caught up with it! Yes, that must be it! Good excuse to hide from the real reason why they didn't bloom as well as they should!  Actually, i am not too sure why too, it would be good if any of my dear friends could enlighten me.  Recipe says double action baking powder, mine does not have the word double, could this be the reason??

    Anyway, this was made with some sweet potatoes, giving it a nice yellow orangey color, gold like in auspicious lingo:).  It was soft, moist and sweet smelling, pretty yummy.

    Recipe
    Source : Cherry's Kitchen (hop over to her blog to see her blooms and variety of flavours)

    A Ingredients - Yeast dough
    • Plain flour 50g
    • Water 50g
    • Yeast, 1tsp (7.5gm)


    B Ingredients 
    • Sweet potato (steamed), 200g 
    • Coconut milk, 120g 
    • Water, 40g 
    • Orange sugar, 140g (Fine Sugar)
    • Egg, 1 
    • Plain flour, 200g
    • Double acting baking powder, 1dsp (1 dsp = 2 teaspoons, probably the culprit)


    Method
    1. Mix yeast dough (A) ingredient together. Leave aside for ½ hr until it has proofed.
    2. Combine mashed sweet potato, coconut milk, water together and blend it. Add in flour, double acting baking powder, yeast dough and mix evenly (Mix quickly in one direction, do not overmix). 
    3. Pour mixture over cups. Dip a spatula in oil and make an “X” across the batter. Leave it aside to proof for 10 minutes. Steam over high heat for 15 minutes.

    Sunday, 30 October 2011

    Happy Birthday Papa


    Happy Birthday Papa! I am so happy that I managed to make you a cake for the second time.  I was tempted to buy this time around as I was still finding it a little difficult to adjust to some new changes in life leaving me without the mojo and limited time to squeeze in a bake.  Contemplated but I didn't want to break the tradition that I started only 1 year ago.  Like the previous year, I stayed away from creamy cakes simply because Pa was never fond of them.  Chose this fruit bake that I saw at Angie's.  Her photos were simply beautiful.


    Angie used Damson plums, I bought a mixture of 2 types of plums that were available in the wet market on that day. I love how it turned out looking so pretty.   It was heavily loaded with plums, all beautifully arranged in circles, it was almost a pity to cover them with streusel.   It smelled so wonderful even when it was still in the oven.  

    The taste?   If you like a fruity bake, you would love this one.  The fragrance from the plums itself was already captivating.   Every bite is laden with thick plum slices. The cake was infused with the juice that flowed from the plums.  The streusel toppings gave a crunchy finish to the cake.

    All in all, it was a choice well made, a great looking cake with a taste to match which was also a taste of something new to the family.

    Hop over to Angie's for the recipe.
       

    Friday, 14 October 2011

    Calling Coffee Lovers


    If you are a coffee lover, I am 101% (possibly higher) sure you would love this! By far, this is the best coffee muffin that I've ever had.  Try it out, no regrets guaranteed, yes that's how confident I am of this one :)


    The muffins turned out pretty, with a nice dome (2 different types, 1 rounded while the other was pointed, read on to know why) and the crust at the top layer was fine but crisp to the effect of melt in the mouth.  The muffin was very soft and moist, bursting with coffee aroma to please the coffee addict that I am.  It was that good! I am so happy I found this recipe.  Credits to Helen, the owner of the recipe  who  mentioned it took her some effort to fine tune the recipe to perfection.



    I made 2 variations with the batter.  The ones in green with white polka dots muffin case had a teaspoon of Kaya in them (I got the idea from Happy Home Baking, something that I came across sometime ago but could never forget) while the pink with red polka dots ones had cranberries plus a little brown sugar as toppings.  I thought the adding of Kaya was a very creative idea (think having coffee with a piece of toast with kaya (coconut milk) spread, yummy right?)  They are both delightful.



    The little patch in the centre is the Kaya spread.



    Recipe 
    Source : Eepoh.com


    * Notes : My variations in red
    • 100g butter
    • 50g castor sugar (70g brown sugar)
    • 50g icing sugar (30g icing sugar)
    • 2 medium eggs (1 1/2 extra large eggs - the only type I have at home)
    • 80g yogurt
    • 1 tbsp whipping cream (optional.. but then the muffin texture is better if added)
    • 135g all-purpose flour (Cake Flour)
    • 1/4  tsp baking soda (not baking powder)
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 - 2 tsp cinnammon (3/4 tsp, afraid it would overshadow the coffee aroma)
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence
    • 1 tsp butter essence (omitted)
    • 1 to 1 1/4  tbsp instant coffee (I use Nescafe Classic) mix with 1 tbsp hot water. 

    Steps


    1. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
    2. Gradually add the eggs, vanilla/butter essence and coffee mixture. Beat mixture to combine well.
    3. Sieve flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
    4. Add half the flour mixture into butter-egg mixture. Fold in.
    5. Add yogurt and whipping cream. Fold in.
    6. Add the remaining flour mixture and fold in.
    7. Spoon mixture into muffin cups and bake in preheated oven at 180C for 25 mins (baked at 200C, anything lesser doesn't give me a bloom, probably happens to my oven only).
    If you like to try them with some Kaya, fill the cup with half the batter, put in a teaspoon of kaya and continue to fill up the cup.

    For cranberry toppings, scatter some dried cranberries on top followed with a little brown sugar.

    Wednesday, 12 October 2011

    Cheeky Meals



    Did you smile at the little 'chick' up there?? I hope so, it looks kinda cute nestled in its nest doesn't it?  This was another fun lunch that I made for little one.  I first saw it at Angie's blog.  Angie, if you happen to stop by, thank you for the beautiful photos that captivated me and also the simple and doable recipe.  I added a little 'chick' to fill the nest to make it less lonely maybe? :)

    Making this was easy, all it took was 30 minutes minus cutting the beaks and crest for the chicks, but that was all for the fun of it.  I intended for them to be little birds but little one said they look like chicks, so chicks they will be :)


    "Here, meet my brothers and sisters! There are 7 of us altogether!"

    "Oh, did i tell you there's another 2 of us who are soundly asleep in their cosy shells still? Hmm, maybe I should wake them up!"



    Recipe
    Source : Angie's Recipe

    Note : Variations in red
    • 200 g Spaghetti
    • 3 tbsp Parmesan, grated
    • 2 tbsp Breadcrumbs
    • 2 Large eggs
    • 3 tbsp Whipping cream
    • 1 Tomato, diced
    • 50 g Prosciutto, diced  (ham)
    • 125 g Fresh Mozzarella cheese, diced
    • 3 tbsp Chives, chopped (1 stalk of celery, diced)
    • Salt and pepper
    • Served with some tomato sauce 
    • Quails Eggs, Lettuce
    1. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to pack instructions. Drain pasta. Return to same pot and toss with grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
    2. Use a fork to stick into the spaghetti and bring up a heaping forkful. Turn and twist the pasta to form a nest. Repeat until you have 8 nests (or according to preferred nest size). Place them on a baking tray lined with paper. At the same time, preheat the oven to 200C/400F
    3. Stir together the eggs and cream until just blended. Season to taste. Add in diced tomatoes, ham, Mozzarella, and chopped chives  (or any other greens). Divide the mixture and spoon them in the center of each nest. Bake the spaghetti nests on second rack from the bottom of the oven for 15-18 minutes (I baked mine for 12 minutes only, dependent on oven heat and I preferred it slightly wet).

    Sunday, 9 October 2011

    Matcha Marble Chiffon Cake



    What do you think of this cake? Pretty? I thought so when I saw it at Cosy Bake.   After baking one myself, I couldn't agree more and it tasted so good.   It's so soft and cottony and the intensity of the green tea scent and flavour felt just right when blended with the plain chiffon.  I don't mind green tea but being a coffee person,  green tea flavoured stuff didn't attract me too much (before this).   But I found myself loving this so much, I may end up being a convert.  It was so good I made it twice to share with friends.


    It was fun trying to create the swirls.  For this one, I put dollops of the green batter at different layers and use a knife to create the swirls at each layer and finally gave the pan a few turns after everything was in.

    This is a shot from the second cake that I baked.   The swirls are slightly different from the first one.  I had more green batter at the bottom and used a knife to create the swirls only after filling the pan with all the batter.  Confession, the primary motivation to make this one was to have another go at the swirls,  sharing came in convenient :))


    My only comment is this cake is very delicate, i was tempted to reduce the amount of water by 10% probably.  Then again mine might be softer because I put in all the egg yolks when the recipe called for 3 only :)  Delicate is nice but delicate to the extend that it difficult getting it to stand on its own makes handling a little difficult and there's no sponginess to it?

    Hmm, maybe i should find another excuse to give it another attempt...

    Recipe
    Source : Cosy Bake

    * Note : Wordings in red denote my variations from the original

    Ingredients
    • Top Flour   90g (Cake Flour)
    • Baking powder   2/3 tsp
    • Castor sugar   40g
    • Egg Yolks   3 (used 4)
    • Salad oil   40g (Canola Oil)
    • Water   90ml
    • Egg Whites  4
    • Castor sugar   40g
    • Matcha powder   1tbsp
    • Water   2tsp

    Method
    1. Sift flour and baking powder and set aside. (Sift twice)
    2. Mix matcha powder with 2tsp of water to make a paste.
    3. In a bowl, mix yolks, oil and water together. Add in sugar, followed by the flour. Mix to a thick batter.
    4. Whip egg white till foamy and slowly add in sugar and whip until stiff peaks.
    5. Mix 1/3 of white to the flour batter and blend well. Fold the rest of the egg white in and fold them gently till well blended.
    6. Take 1/4 portion of the batter to mix with the matcha paste. Fill the chiffon tin with plain batter and in between layer filled with matcha batter. With a skewer, run through the tin to create the marble effect.
    7. Bake the cake at 180ç for 10 minutes, and bring down to 160'c and bake for further 30 minutes. (Bake at 180C for 45 minutes (cover top with aluminium foil).  After 45 minutes, remove foil bake for another 10 minutes)
    8. Cool the cake with the tin inverted on a wire rack till it's completely cool before slicing.

    Wednesday, 5 October 2011

    Flowery Meals



    I was reminded of the specialties at a famous Shanghainese restaurant in town when I saw these flower buns at Terri's blog, which I stumbled upon because of her participation in an event organised by Royal Selangor Pewter.   We frequently ordered them (instead of rice) to go with their other specialties like Sour Plum Sauce Chicken, Tung Po Meat and Sze Chuan eggplant.

    My flower buns may not look so perfect but I am pretty pleased with them :)  They taste equally good too.   It has a nice soft texture that was a little chewy when eaten.  It reminded me of those that my Ah Mah used to make, unlike some of the commercial ones that one gets these day, which can be dry and crumbly.  I used my breadmaker to do the kneading.  The dough turned out to be one smooth ball that was easy to handle and shape.  I think I have found a simple and nice pau recipe that I will stick to.

    I made Sour Plum Chicken to go with the flower buns.  The slightly crispy chicken  and its tangy sauce went well with the flower buns.     I added some canned pineapples chunks left over from making hawaiian pizza. Actually, I think anything with a good sauce/gravy, be it sour, sweet, savoury or spicy would go well with the buns (We ate them with Fish Curry for dinner to finish up all of them :) )


    I am keeping the recipe here for my own reference, if any of you are interested to try this out, do hop over to Terri's blog for a more detail step by step instruction.

    Flower Buns (makes 10 large or 15 to 18 small buns)
    Source A Daily Obsession

    * Note : Wordings in red denote my variations from the original

    Ingredients


    A Ingredients
    • 1 tsp dry yeast
    • 2 Tbsp water -Mix A ingredients together
    B Ingredients
    • 350g Bao or HK flour or Rose (plain) flour (All purpose flour)
    • 1 tsp double-action baking powder
    • 50g (or less, say 30 g) fine sugar (35g fine sugar)
    • 200-250 ml water (250ml without and omitted water in A Ingredients)
    • 1 Tbsp shortening or vegetable oil (shortening)
    *If you use 250 ml and you are kneading by hand, add 200 ml first and knead in the remainder slowly, 10 to 15 ml each time, so that the dough is not too sticky to handle.
    1. Sift the flour and baking powder together . If using shortening, rub it into the flour evenly.
    2. Mix A with all the B ingredients in a mixer bowl and knead at medium speed till very smooth, about 6-8 minutes. The dough should be quite soft. Never mind if it's slighty sticky. Continue kneading until it isn't sticky. If kneading with hands, put dough back into the bowl and cover with a cloth. Rest for 30 min or until doubled, depending on room temperature. (Put all ingredients A & B in breadmaker, starting with wet ingredients followed by dry with yeast last)
    3. Divide dough into 50g portions for larger buns or into golf-ball portions for dainty buns.  Dust your hands and the work surface lightly with some flour. (30g portions, need no dusting)
    4. Flatten each ball, roll into a small oval shape as long as your hand and about 3 to 4 cm wide. Use a metal pastry cutter and cut the dough into thin strips of 1/2 cm, thinner than that if you are making mini buns.
    5. Brush the cut strips of dough with veggie oil (Olive oil, spring onions and toasted sesame seeds)
    6. Take the ends of the dough, one end in each hand, and twist around your thumb and tips of your forefinger.Stretch the dough by pulling gently as you twist it around the tips of your thumb and forefinger. Tuck the end underneath the bun by pulling the last bit down to meet the other end that's at the bottom. (Sounds difficult? Don't read, just watch this video)
    7. Place the buns on a small square of baking paper to proof. Let the buns proof for 30-45 minutes or until doubled. Do not overprove or buns will wrinkle when steamed.
    8. Steam at high heat for 4 minutes for small buns, 5 to 6 minutes for larger buns. A bamboo steamer basket gives best results because the steam can escape instead of dripping onto the buns and messing them.

    Sour Plum Sauce Chicken

    • 3 free range chicken whole thighs
    • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
    Marinade
    • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
    • 1 tbsp cornflour
    Sauce (Mix all ingredients)
    • 100ml water
    • 4 tbsp plum sauce
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    1. Deskin, debone and cut chicken into bite size.  
    2. Marinade chicken with seasonings for 30 minutes.
    3. Fry chicken with minimum oil.
    4. Stir fry chopped garlic. 
    5. Pour in sauce ingredient.
    6. When sauce thickens, add in chicken and coat well.  
    7. Lastly, add in some pineapple chunks if preferred.

    Before I end, I take this opportunity to wish good luck to Terri and all the other participants of the Royal Selangor 30-day ‘Get Your Jelly On’ challenge in aid of breast cancer awareness!   Do hop over to their blogs and lend your support not only to them but also for the cause of the challenge! Let's do what we can, cheers 

    Monday, 3 October 2011

    Dragon's Eyes aka Longan Muffins


    Dragon Eyes, the literal translation for the name of a small brown, juicy exotic fruit from the lands of Asia, known as Longan in Chinese.  It is so named because the fruit when shelled, resembles an eyeball (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris).  

    The Chinese believe there is medicinal values in longans.  We eat them fresh and in dried form too.  In its freshest form, its flesh is sweet and juicy.  In its dried form, they are mostly used as ingredients and boiled to become  drinks, soups or desserts.  I thought the idea of using them in bakes was interesting.  The first time I came across them in bakes was when  Lavender Bakery introduced their Longan cupcake.   The longan aroma was prominent and it was slightly chewy.  I used to buy them for little one.   I searched around for a something similar and found a few.  I followed a longan muffin recipe.  The recipe looks pretty simple.  Just like any muffin recipe, it was mix wet ingredients with dry ones.


    Verdict?


    The batter was a little runny, which is quite unlike muffin batters that I am used to.  I was a little intimidated by the runny batter which saw me scrutinizing the recipe again to see if I got my measurements wrong, which I did not.  However, they rose well and was quite flavorful coming from the longan juice ( water used for soaking the longans) and the longan flesh.   I threw in some sunflower seeds to add an extra crunch.  I am not too sure if I did anything wrong but it was not up to my expectations.  There are spots which are dense, probably I overmixed it.  Gosh, I hate those air tunnels !!


    Thursday, 29 September 2011

    Fruity Braided Bread



    These are literally hot from the oven! Nuh, not anymore, but they were when I started writing this which was right after tasting it :)   So, if you are looking for a bread recipe to try, you could really consider this.

    So, what's this? Braided bread, I made 2 different flavours with one recipe.  I secretly (not so secretly anymore) gave myself a pat on the back when I took them out from the oven.  They looked very pretty  to me, at least.    This is the first time I tried braiding, it is a 2 strand braid, and it was very easy.   I did a mix and match to end up with this loaf.  

    In my previous bread post, the Japanese Coconut Custard Bun was made from a tangzhong method dough, courtesy of Christine who used it as a base recipe for many other variations too.  One that caught my attention was the Apple Custard Bun as I simply love the idea of fruits in baking.  I started off with the intention to try that particular one.  While waiting for my breadmaker to do the job on the dough, I went through the steps for preparing the filling.  That was when the lazy bug bit and I started having second thoughts, then came the third, the fourth...   The other excuse that I gave myself was I didn't like ending up with 3 egg whites as only yolks were used for the fillings.   I flipped through my Magic Bread book (by Alex Goh) to look for easier alternatives. There's this 'Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling Bun' that is close to Christine's Apple Custard, no eggs but whipping cream called for instead, the thought of leaving a 2/3 carton lying around in the fridge is even more unappealing than 3 egg whites.   Scouted around again and saw this recipe with cream cheese and strawberry filling but the bread was braided instead.   Fine, braid I shall then (it sounded like it was easier than rolling), to save my eggs and whipping cream! But being the stubborn one that I am, I wanted to stick to apples which was my original intention.  So, instead of Apple Custard, it became Apple Cinnamon Cream Cheese :).  But the strawberries looked good too, moreover little one loves strawberries and I had some in the fridge.  So, I split the dough into 2 and ended up with both the flavors.


    Verdict?
    This is really good.  I am happy with the results of this mix and match.  Asian style bread, western style fillings, good mix of the east and the west. The bread was soft and it blended so well with the cream cheese and fruit fillings.  You can try it with whatever fruits that you fancy.  Another lazy way would be to spread some fruit jam over it, I think it would tastes as good :)






    Recipe

    Ingredients for tangzhong
    • 25gm  bread flour
    • 125ml water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)


    Ingredients for buns
    • 350 gm bread flour
    • 55 gm caster sugar
    • 5 gm salt
    • 56 gm egg
    • 7 gm milk powder (to increase fragrance, optional)
    • 125 ml milk
    • 120 gm tangzhong (all of everything made)
    • 5 gm instant yeast
    • 30 gm butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)

    Methods for making tangzhong
    1. Mix flour in water and stir until smooth and without lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking.
    2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done.  Remove from heat.
    3. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let it cool. (Note : Christine recommends chilling the tang zhong for several hours and let it come to room temperature before use.  I did not take this step, I am not sure if it makes any difference)

    Method for preparing bread dough
    1. Combine all dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Whisk and combine all wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong, then add into the well of the dry ingredients. Knead until you get a dough shape and gluten has developed, then knead in the butter. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, not sticky and elastic.  If  using a bread maker add all wet ingredients into bread maker first followed by dry ingredients. Add yeast the last.
    2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel or cling wrap. Let it proof till it's doubled in size.
    3. Transfer to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide into 2 equal portions. Cover, let rest for 15 minutes.

    Ingredients for cream cheese fillings
    • 125 gm cream cheese
    • 50 gm caster sugar
    • 1 tsp lemon juice (I substituted with 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt to experiment)
    1. Combine and mix well with mixer. Set aside.

    Ingredients for fruit fillings


    Apple
    • 1 apple, cubed 
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1. Combine and mix. Set aside.


    Strawberries
    • 8 strawberries, cubed 
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 tablespoon flour (if strawberries too runny add a little extra)
    1. Combine and mix. Set aside.

    Assembly
    1. Roll bread dough into a rectangle - about 10" by 6".  Place on baking sheet. Spread cream and fruit fillings down the center. Cut strips on both sides of the filling (see diagram below)
    2. Fold alternating strips over filling diagonally. Seal Ends. 
    3. Brush with  egg wash (1 egg + dash of water, whisked together), then let rise about 15 minutes.
    4. Bake in a 180C preheated oven, for about 25 minutes. 
    5. If the braid begins to brown too much cover loosely with foil.

    Assuming the diagram below is the bread dough that has been rolled into a nice rectangular shape.  Place the fillings in the centre and cut strips on both sides (make sure equal number of strips are made).

    Strips
    Place Fillings Here
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips
    Strips

    Friday, 23 September 2011

    Green Green Taste of Home

    I had the strongest desire to write this down almost immediately.  This is the first time I am making this ever since I started this blog.  Nostalgia, this dish brings back lots of cherished memories from the yesteryears not only for myself, possibly for many of you who are reading this too.   If I am making you miss home a lot more, especially for those in faraway lands, awww...I plead my guilt :)

    A simple stir fry green dish but these greens are special.  They grow wild.  Known as paku-pakis in the Malay language it's actually a type of wild fern shoots.  In fact if we share the same homeland, I am pretty sure that just by looking at these photos you would have formed a conclusion that say she's from a kampung (aka village) :) Yes, I was from a kampung :)    This started off as a delicacy of the rural people although it is available in some restaurants nowadays.  These greens cooked in chili paste, dried shrimps and shrimp paste is so crunchy, refreshing, flavorful, spicy...in short heavenly.

    It's the rainy season now, and these ferns grow in abundance in this weather.  Flashback...when I was young and living in my kampung, we got to eats lots of these during rainy seasons.  Big Uncle will pluck them from his rubber estate for Ah Mah to cook.  The other wild plant that we get during the rainy season is a type of mushroom that is so delicious when cooked in chinese wine, i shall not deviate and steal the limelight from this beautiful fern this time around.  Then comes the phone call informing us about the bountiful 'harvest' and asking us to go back to savor them.  There was so much to share, everyone gets to eat their to heart's content! I remember some of us would take a whole rice bowl of these greens and just munch away on them like having a nice green snack.  And today, all I got was this measly amount for RM2.


    Here's a piece of advice dished out by Ah Mah ~ 
    Since this is a wild plant, there's this risk of picking plants that have been contaminated (possibly from picking the wrong fern or those that got some pesticide sprayed to rid weeds in the estate).  So, the golden words from Ah Mah was to throw in a few slices of ginger when stir-frying, if ginger turns black, this means these ferns are not to be eaten.  

    Only the shoots are to be eaten, discard the stems (starting from the portion that you can't break with your fingers).  So, prettily green they are, aren't they?


    The greens are then blanched in hot water.  This step is obmitted in some recipes, but we do this to get rid of the puckery taste and also to lessen the stir frying time which will make it look dark and wimpy otherwise.


    Recipe
    • 1 bundle of paku pakis (approximately 150g)
    • 30g dried shrimp
    • 1 tsp dried shrimp paste granules
    • 5 shallots, sliced finely
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon chili paste
    • Slices of red chili (optional)
    • Juice from 1 calamansi/lime
    • 1 tsp sugar
    1. Stir fry shallots, garlic, dried shrimps and shrimp paste granules until fragrant.
    2. Add in blanched paku pakis.
    3. Mix and stir fry until shoots are slightly withered.
    4. Add in calamansi juice
    5. Dish up and serve hot with white rice.

    Thursday, 22 September 2011

    Japanese Coconut Custard Buns


    Bread making is almost a weekly routine after picking up the know how.  Bread is such a convenient breakfast provided the family doesn't get bored of them.  I made these yesterday after discovering Christine's blog.   She has quite a few variations made from a tangzhong method base recipe which by far is my favourite break making method too.  I  love that it almost always guarantee soft and fluffy bread, the type of bread that we are more accustomed to.  

    I used my breadmaker to knead, tang zhong doughs are quite sticky (confession again; I never knead  them manually, tang zhong or not :)).  I was very pleased with the outcome.  The buns turned out very well.   They were really soft and the crust was very thin too.

    The recipe instruction was to divide them into 6 portions, which I find that is quite big for individual consumption.  The dough was approximately 720g which would mean 120g per bun.  I moulded them into 12 50g ones and 2 60g ones.  As mine was smaller, I didn't follow the steps of spreading the fillings and rolling them twice to spread out the fillings  (probably this was the reason a big portion was needed).  I took the lazy way and just wrap it in the centre :))




    Here's how it look from the inside.   The fillings in the centre is not quite obvious.   The yellowish tint came from the butter and eggs.   Although not prominent, the taste is evident.  Love the thin crust!

    The only thing that I would change is to make a bigger portion of the fillings (maybe add half a portion).



    Recipe
    Source Christine's Recipes

    Note: Please hop over to Christine's blog for a clearer step by step instruction with photos.

    Ingredients of tangzhong
    • 25gm  bread flour
    • 125ml water (could be replaced by milk, or 50/50 water and milk)


    Ingredients for buns
    • 350 gm bread flour
    • 55 gm caster sugar
    • 5 gm salt
    • 56 gm egg
    • 7 gm milk powder (to increase fragrance, optional)
    • 125 ml milk
    • 120 gm tangzhong (all of everything made)
    • 5 gm instant yeast
    • 30 gm butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
    Ingredients for fillings
    • 15 gm butter, softened
    • 15 gm caster sugar
    • 15 gm egg, whisked
    • 30 gm desiccated coconut

    Method of making fillings
    1. Combine softened butter with sugar.
    2. Add egg, stir well, followed by desiccated coconut. Combine all ingredients well. You can make the fillings while waiting for the 2nd round of proofing to complete or you might like to prepare it in advance, cut into equal portions, place it in fridge until needed. If they are chilled too long, place them in room temperature for a while before use. That would be much easier to handle.
    Methods of making tangzhong
    1. Mix flour in water and stir until smooth and without lumps. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring consistently with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking.
    2. The mixture becomes thicker and thicker. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, it’s done.  Remove from heat.
    3. Transfer into a clean bowl. Cover with a cling wrap sticking onto the surface of tangzhong to prevent from drying up. Let it cool. (Note : Christine recommends chilling the tang zhong for several hours and let it come to room temperature before use.  I did not take this step, I am not sure of the difference that it will make.)

    Method of making buns
    1. Combine all dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Whisk and combine all wet ingredients: milk, egg and tangzhong, then add into the well of the dry ingredients. Knead until you get a dough shape and gluten has developed, then knead in the butter. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, not sticky and elastic.  If  using a bread maker add all wet ingredients into bread maker first followed by dry ingredients. Add yeast the last.
    2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a wet towel or cling wrap. Let it proof till it's doubled in size.
    3. Transfer to a clean floured surface. Deflate and divide the dough into equal portions of preferred size. Knead into ball shapes. Cover with cling wrap, let rest for 15 minutes.
    4. Roll out each part with a rolling pin into an oval shape. Place custard filling evenly onto the surface of dough. Roll from top to bottom to enclose the filling. Flatten dough with pin. Again, roll from top to bottom. Knead into a ball shape. Repeat this step of rolling and wrapping fillings with the rest of your dough. With seals facing down, place the six balls into a greased baking tray or lined with baking paper, covered with cling wrap or a wet towel. Leave it for the 2nd round of proofing, about 45 to 60 minutes, until double in size (I wrapped the fillings into a flatten piece of round dough).
    5. Brush whisked egg on surface of buns. Sprinkle sesame seeds if you like. Bake in a pre-heated 180C (356F) oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. At about 5 minutes before removing from oven, brush syrup on the surface of buns(optional, I did not do it). Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
    Variations:
    Step 1 - Used bread maker
    Step 3 - Divided into smaller portions of 50-60g.
    Step 4 - Filled buns with fillings, wrapped and seal at bottom.



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