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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


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

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Selamat Makan~Ayam Masak Habang

Many of you would have heard about the tragedy of flight MH370 by now.  My heart is heavy, i can't imagine the sadness and grief felt by victims' loved ones.   Before you read on, may i ask that you keep the victims and their loved ones in your prayers...

Spanning across an archipelago of 18,000 thousand islands with 6,000 populated ones, Indonesian cuisine reflects the diverse culture and traditions of its people.  Each region has its own specialities influenced by local and foreign culture in that particular region.  As an example the Padang style food from the people of West Sumatra is very spicy and rich in coconut milk while Javanese food from the island of Java is simpler, not as spicy and tend to have some sweetness in them. Pork is not widely served in Indonesia except in the mystical islands of Bali.  I guess their national motto "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" which means “Unity in Diversity” is reflected in their cuisines too.  However, despite the diversity,  Indonesian dishes are generally rich in spice.

I decided to try out this dish named Ayam Masak Habang which means Chicken cooked in Red Chilli Sauce.   I had a feeling that it will be something that will not be too far from the family's tastebuds judging from the list of ingredients.  I am quite afraid of that 'What's this you are feeding us?' which i get occasionally when i try to be a little adventurous!  This is a dish by the Banjar people in South Kalimantan.  Although this  an everyday dish it also served during festive occasions.  During celebrations, it is served with Nasi Kuning (i.e. Yellow Rice), rice cooked with herbs and coconut milk.   

This dish went very well with the fragrant herb rice, spicy but not overpowering and has a combination of sweet sourish taste.   I served it with some fresh tomato and cucumber slices plus taking a cue from how the Indonesians love serving egg omelette as a side dish, i added my chinese style crabstick omelette to complete this meal :)

There is one thing i must confess though, I am not too sure if i understood one of the ingredients correctly, recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of ground red chilli pepper to be soaked in some water. I assumed that it was chilli powder since it was measured in tablespoons.  

Selamat Makan!

Recipe - Ayam Masak Habang
Source: Indonesia Eats

  • 1 kg chicken pieces (thighs, drumstick, breast bone in and skin on) - (5 thighs)
  • 1 lime
  • 5 salam (Indonesian bay) leaves
  • 4 cm cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 300ml boiled water
  • 100ml cooking oil (70ml)
Spices to be ground
  • 3 cm ginger, peeled
  • 125 grams shallots
  • 100 grams garlics
  • 3 tablespoons ground red chili pepper, soaked in a small amount of hot water (2 tbsp)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut sugar - (3 tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (terasi), roasted - (belacan)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind, dissolved in small amount of water
  • seasalt
  1. Drizzle lime juice over chicken pieces.  Leave in the fridge while preparing spices for grinding.
  2. Soak the roasted dried shrimp paste in tamarind liquid. 
  3. Grind all the spices that are to be ground with a food processor.
  4. Heat up your wok, add the cooking oil then stir fry the ground spices, salam leaves, cinnamon and cloves. Add coconut sugar. You can add more if you want a darker colour.
  5. Toss in the chicken pieces, keep stirring until chicken turns colour. Add the boiled water. Cook until the sauce thickens and reduce the heat to low. Once the sauce is oily and drier, remove from the heat. 
  6. Ready to serve with nasi kuning.
  1. My variations in blue.
  2. I used the traditional pestle and mortar to pound the spice since my old blender that i used for spices chose to gave up on me at just the time i wanted to use it for this. 
  3. Mine has a lighter shade compared to the original recipe, i suspect it's probably due to lesser amount of chilli and coconut sugar used.

Recipe - Nasi Kuning
Source: Indonesia Eats

  • 2 cups jasmine rice, washed and drained
  • 2 1/4 cups coconut milk (50ml coconut milk plus water as per stated on rice cooker)
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock(or vegetable stock for vegetarian) (1 tsp chicken stock powder)
  • 1 salam (Indonesian bay) leaf
  • 2 lime kaffir leaves
  • 1 pandan/screwpine leaf (or few drops pandan essence) (1 pandan leaf)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, bruised
  • 3/4 – 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cm galangal, cut in 4 lengthwise slices salt as desired (omitted salt)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a rice cooker or heavy stock pot and simmer, covered, until done.
  2. Discard lemongrass, galangal, salam and kaffir lime leaves before serving.
  1. I used a rice cooker to cook it hence i am not too sure about the amount of water to be used when a pot is used instead.
  2. Hint from source for cooking with a pot- Cook the rice in a pot over high heat until the liquid starts to a boil. Turn down the heat and continue to cook gently to avoid scorching on bottom of the pot. 
I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Indonesia, hosted by Alice from I Love. I Cook. I Bake

Thursday, 20 March 2014

When Taps Run Dry, Keep Calm and Cook Simple Meals

Of late we have been going on quite a number of one pot meals due to water rationing.   We have been seeing very little rain for months but it has been raining this past two days, hopefully it will continue this way and dams will get filled again.  For now, we are getting tap water on a 2 day rotational basis.  So, the lesser pots/bowls to wash the better :)

Donburi (Japanese all in one meal of a meat/vegetables dish served over rice in a bowl) inspired meals are always welcomed in my home.  Perhaps it's entwined in our culture,  the satisfaction of a even one simple dish over hot rice is just hard to describe.  The sight of each grain of rice getting coated with some heavenly looking gravy and with steam still coming out of is already a sight worth admiring for me :) 

Mapo Tofu is a dish which originated from the Szechuan province in China.   There are many interesting stories about this dish but essentially they centre around an old grandmother("Po") with pockmarked("Mazi") face, who created this dish. As in its name, Mapo Tofu is a tofu dish cooked with minced meat and chilli bean sauce.    The authentic version of this dish is fiery and some to the effect of tongue numbing with the amount of Szechuan peppercorns used in it.   The burst of flavors for this dish is quite amazing.

However, this is a Chuka (Japanese style Chinese dish) version that i am sharing here, it is not as spicy and with a tinge of sweetness coming from the use of Mirin.  Have hot steaming rice ready and just spoon the dish over when it is ready.  Throw in some steamed/blanched greens and you will have a complete meal to go in 15 minutes.

As much as we love our rice, i try not to serve rice everyday of the week.   If  pockmarked grandmother tofu earlier on was funny for you, i bet you will laugh at this one too, translated Claypot Loh Shu Fun means Claypot Rat Noodles! Worry not though, there are no rats in them!!!   It is just that the noodles look a little like a rat's wriggly tail :)

This is another fast to go dish, all you need is to have some minced meat and vegetables, the seasonings used are pretty common if you make Chinese cuisines frequently.  For some extra kick we love adding some sambal belacan (spicy prawn paste) into it.

It is not necessary to use a claypot for this but  it does seem to taste better. Heat is confined within the small little pot thus locking in all the wonderful flavors.

Recipe-Mapo Tofu
Source: Spotted on Her Frozen Wings with recipe from Just One Cookbook

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 160 gms ground pork
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • 2 stalks spring onions, sliced
  • 2.5 tbsp chilli bean paste (1.5 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (omitted)
Thickening solution
  • 1tsp corn flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. In a large pan or skillet, heat up oil on medium high heat, saute garlic and ginger till fragrant.
  2. Add the meat and break up with a wooden spoon.
  3. When the meat is cooked, add the sauce mixture. Stir to combine and add the tofu. Cook until tofu is heated through. 
  4. Mix gently and try not to mash the tofu too much or dish will become unsightly. 
  5. Pour in the cornstarch solution for sauce to thicken.
  6. Stir in the green onions just before taking it off the heat.
  7. Spoon onto hot rice or serve separately as a side dish.

Recipe - Claypot Loh Shu Fun

Ingredients (Portion for 1 pax)
  • 100-150g loh shu fun
  • 100g minced meat (pork/chicken)
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 3 meatballs
  • 2 shitake mushrooms, soaked in some water to soften then drain and slice
  • 2 baby corns, sliced
  • A handful of choy sum/bok choy
  • 2 stalks spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking caramel
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken stock granules
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sambal belacan (optional)
  1. Marinade minced meat with soy sauce, corn flour and a dash of pepper. Set aside.
  2. Wash and drain loh shu fun.  Blanch with some hot water to remove oil then drain it.
  3. Heat up 1 tbsp of oil in the claypot.  
  4. Add in garlic and shallot.  Fry until fragrant.
  5. Add in minced meat and break up the meat with a wooden spoon.
  6. Add in mushroom slices.
  7. Add in loh shu fun and seasonings.  Stir to mix well.
  8. Add in meatballs and baby corns.
  9. Add in water and let it come to a boil.  
  10. Taste and add seasonings if required.
  11. Add in choy sum and mix well.
  12. Crack an egg on top.  At this point, some will turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the egg to slow cook on its own.  It looks prettier this way, stir the egg in just before eating.  But to be on the safe side, i prefer to mix mine in and continue with the heat for another minute or so.
  13. Garnish with spring onions before serving.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Don't Ask Me Where's the Carrot...

One of my favorite chinese cakes is the Loh Pak Kou or in the Hokkien dialect, we call it Chai Tao Kuey.  Those days i only get to eat them when Ah Mah made them during festivals.  I remember Mum pan frying them and how i love eating them with chilli sauce. I never learnt how to make it from Ah Mah though, which is a pity. It's a good thing that they easily available in dim sum restaurants and food stalls nowadays :)

The Loh Pak Kou is a steamed savoury cake made with grated white radish/daikon.  Instead of Radish Cake, it's more popularly known as Turnip Cake or Carrot Cake.  Quite a misnomer since you won't find turnips or carrots in them.  The name Carrot Cake came about probably because a radish is known as 'white carrot' in chinese.

These cakes are mostly served pan fried or stir-fried with some condiments like the one i have here although i don't mind eating it plain.

Apologies for not having any photos to show what it looks like right out of the steaming pan.   It was dark by the time this was ready and i didn't have any time for photos before i stir-fried it for breakfast the next morning.

I already have a keeper recipe for this but decided to give Anne's recipe a try this time.  I noticed hers has a higher ratio of radish to flour/water than most of our local recipes and sounded luxurious with a generous addition of other ingredients.  I am guessing hers is more towards the Hong Kong style of making it since that's where she's residing.  I like the idea of having a lot more radish in it but i have to admit i was a little worried that it might turned out hard for my liking judging from the amount of water used. Surprisingly it wasn't, probably water/juice from the large amount of radish helped balance the ratio.  But i would note that it's a little firmer than the our local ones.

Btw, Anne has quite a repertoire of Chinese dishes although she is not a Chinese and this Chinese here has actually picked up quite a few dishes from her :)

The most difficult part (painful to be exact) in making this cake is grating the radish (unless you have some sophisticated grater which i don't), the rest of the steps are fairly easy.  All it requires is to stir-fry the other ingredients before adding flour to bind everything together and then it goes into the steamer for an hour or so.

I thought since the cake is Hong Kong style and taking a cue from Anne, i might as well  give it a Hong Kong style stir-fry, with some XO sauce where it originated.   You have to give it to them when it comes to putting lavishness into food.  For the uninitiated, XO sauce is a spicy seafood based sauce, some say it's the king of all sauces.  A typical Malaysian version will use its cheaper cousin, soy sauce to flavor our loh pak kou instead.

The cake was delicious, soft and flavorful.  The little pieces of sausage and mushroom added some flavors and bites into the dish while the XO sauce provided umami flavors that blended well with the cake.   Downed with a glass of lemon barley, it made a satisfying breakfast!

Thank you, Anne for this recipe!

Source: Anne of My Bare Cupboard

  • 1 kg (970 grams peeled weight) Chinese white radish - mine was 950g peeled weight
  • 2 pieces Chinese sausage (lap cheong / pork sausage and yun cheong / duck's liver sausage) - cut down to 1.5 piece lap cheong since i had 1/2 left
  • 3 tablespoons dried shrimps
  • 4-5 dried mushrooms 
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp chicken powder
  • 1 tsp raw sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 180 grams rice flour
  • 35 grams potato starch (or cornstarch/tapioca)
  • 1 cup water
  1. Grease a 8x8 inch square pan or a 8 x 3-inch round cake pan. (A loose bottom pan will make it easier to remove or cut the cake, i normally leave the cake in the pan and cut out the portion needed)
  2. Radish- grate finely.
  3. Chinese Sausage-place in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to allow it to soften then remove the membrane casing and dice it.
  4. Dried Shrimps-soak in some water to soften, discard water then chop coarsely.
  5. Dried Mushrooms-soak in some water to soften, remove stalk, squeeze to remove soaking water then dice.
  6. In a small mixing bowl, combine rice flour and potato starch, mix well then add in the water.  Use a wire whisk to combine everything together until there are no lumps, set aside .
  7. Heat wok or a large pan, pour 2 teaspoons of oil then add in the sausages, shrimps and mushrooms, cook for about 3 minutes .
  8. Add in the grated radish, season with pepper, chicken powder, sugar and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until  radish is soft and translucent.
  9. Take pan off heat.
  10. Give the flour/water mixture a stir to make sure flour doesn't sink to the bottom before adding it into the radish mixture. Mix and stir thoroughly, it should look like a sticky batter.  If it is a bit runny, put back the pan to the stove, over low/medium heat stir the mixture for few seconds for it to thicken.
  11. Transfer to the prepared pan and steamed over medium-high heat for 1 hour. 
  12. Leave turnip cake inside the wok , for it to cool completely.
Serving Methods
  1. Serve warm-When the cake has cool slightly, cut rectangular pieces and serve with chilli sauce or a drizzle of soy sauce.
  2. Pan Fry-Cut rectangular pieces and pan fry both sides until golden brown.  Serve with chilli sauce or a drizzle of soy sauce.
  3. Stir Fry (Portion for 1)
    1. Cut cake into small cubes, pour in 1 tbsp of oil pan fry until lightly-browned, transfer to a plate . 
    2. In the same pan, add 1 tsp of oil followed by 1 tbsp of preserved radish (optional but if used it is to be washed and drained), stir fry until fragrant.
    3. Add in 1 tbsp XO sauce, mix well.
    4. Add in cake cubes, stir gently to combine and cook for about a minute . 
    5. Spread cake cubes in 1 layer then pour in 1 beaten egg.   
    6. Add in some slice spring onions when egg is about to set. Fry until golden brown.
    7. Transfer to a plate and garnish with more sliced spring onions and XO sauce if preferred.  Serve hot.
    1. With minimal variations from the original recipe in the steps taken.
    2. I would normally chill the cake overnight before pan frying it the next day.  The cake becomes firmer after chilling making it easier to cut and fry.

    Thursday, 6 March 2014

    Richness...wrapped in a bun

    Rich is Kaya in the Malay language and strangely it is also what we called a local jam made with coconut milk, eggs and sugar, probably it got its name from the 'richness' in the jam.  It's interesting to note that it is also known as Kaya in the Chinese dialects spoken here :)

    Kaya toast has long been (and still is) a popular Malaysian (and Singaporean too i think) breakfast item.  It is said that it has its origins back to the days when the Hainanese worked as kitchen hands on British ships.   Some of them started their own business of opening coffee shops selling similar food that they prepared for the British when they settled down.  Instead of western jams they served toast with kaya.  A thin slice of cold butter is also slathered in to give it a sweet savoury taste.  If this is something new to you, don't give this a miss when you are around this part of the world.   Sheer heaven, i promise!

    Now, what you are seeing here is not exactly the kaya toast that i have just mentioned.   These are buns but with kaya in them instead.  That green belt that they have around them is a pandan leave, it's not just to make the buns look pretty, it infuses its fragrance on the bun too.  The pandan fragrance blends very well with the kaya filling in the bun.

    Instead of butter i played around and added a small piece of cheddar cheese on top of the kaya just before wrapping up the bun.  

    Soft milky buns with a rich coconut jam infused with pandan fragrance...Mmmm!

    Source: Bread Magic by Alan Ooi for bread dough


    Bread Dough

    Part A
    • 300g high protein flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 1/2 tbsp milk powder
    • 50g sugar
    Part B
    • 125ml water
    • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
    • 1 medium size egg (1 used 2/3 of a large egg and left 1/3 for glazing)
    Part C
    • 40g butter
    Part D (for glazing)
    • Mix 1 tablespoon fresh milk with 1/3 egg from Part B (I like using this as the glaze, it's not too glossy when egg is used solely or too matte and browns easily when only milk is used) 
    • Store bought kaya 
    • 1 slice of cheddar cheese, cut into small rectangular pieces
    1. Combine ingredient A in a mixer and mix well.  Add in ingredient B and beat till a dough is formed.  Add in ingredient C and beat till dough is smooth and elastic to touch.
    2. Leave dough in a big bowl, covered with a damp cloth.
    3. Let it rise in a warm place until double the size.
    4. Divide dough into 50g portions (managed to get 11 pieces). 
    5. Flatten dough then wrap with some filling starting with 1 tablespoon of kaya followed by a piece of cheese. It's easier to wrap if it's not too full. 
    6. Arrange on greased tray if not using paper liners.
    7. Cover and rest buns until double the size again.
    8. Wrap a pandan leave around the bun (loosely)
    9. Glaze with Part D.
    10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15-17 minutes until golden brown.

    Note: I combine all the ingredients and let my breadmaker handle steps 1-3.

    Monday, 3 March 2014

    Happy..Happier..Happiest! ~ Orange Blueberry Pull Apart Bread

    I was happy to chanced upon this recipe posted by Veronica.  It came at the right time when i was looking for something new to make with a punnet of blueberries that has been lying around for a few days.  Those blueberries though big and plump were not sweet, after eating a few son said 'Mum, why don't you make something with them?'

    Happy to land on a suitable recipe at the right time and happier when i pulled this out of my oven, i thought it looked beautiful!  It would have been perfect if i had made a better judgement in apportioning the entire piece of dough.  If you look closely, you will notice that part of the loaf has a separation in the centre which is because they are actually 2 separate pieces. 

    Love the sight of the folds in this loaf, they look like a paper fan to me and i love how some of the berries burst and stained the loaf with it juice :)

    Just a sneak peek into one of the layers, i wasn't ready to pull it further apart, i wanted it to stay pretty a little longer :))

    I hope this is good enough to show you that it's soft and moist with orange sugar and blueberry juice...need i say more?

    Bread was delicious and i was happy with the pictures, dancing on cloud nine i was!  Give this a try, i highly recommend it!

    Thank you very much for sharing this, Veronica!  Do hop over to see hers too and  she has some step by step pictures to guide you along.

    Reference: Minty's Kitchen


    • 30g bread flour
    • 1 tsp dried yeast
    • 65ml lukewarm water
    • 210g bread flour
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • zest of 1/2 orange
    • 3/4 tbsp honey
    • 95ml  fresh orange juice
    • 25ml vegetable oil
    • 50g raw sugar
    • zest of 1/2 orange
    • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
    • 15g butter (bring to room temperature to make it spreadable)
    1. (A) In a small bowl, mix bread flour with yeast and lukewarm water into a thick paste. Cover and leave at room temperature until the mixture becomes foamy (and you will see honeycomb texture developing beneath the foamy surface).
    2. Place dough from A, ingredients in B and C into the bread pan of the breadmaker (according to the recommended sequence stated in the instruction manual of the breadmaker).  Select Dough function.  Once the cycle completes, let dough rise until double the size.
    3. [To determine if the dough has risen enough, poke a floured finger into the  dough.  Dough shouldn't spring back quickly when finger is removed.  If it does, it is under-proved and needs more time to proof further.]
    4. Remove from bread pan then punch down dough to release trapped air.  
    5. Mix together (D) and set aside.
    6. Roll the dough into a rectangle (around 25 * 35 cm) and using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 5 equal strips.  Brush melted butter on the first strip of dough and sprinkle evenly with orange-sugar mixture.
    7. Stack a second strip of dough over the first one, brush with melted butter and sprinkle evenly with orange-sugar mixture. Repeat the steps with the rest of the dough strips until you get a stack of 5 strips, all buttered and topped with orange-sugar mixture.9
    8. Then slice the stack crosswise through all the five layers, into 6 equal rectangles  (To be estimated according to size of pan (around 24*14* 7cm), in my case i will make it 5 the next time around). 
    9. Transfer these stacks of dough into greased loaf pan, with cut edges facing up, side by side.  Gently insert blueberries evenly in between each layer of the dough.  Cover with cling wrap and leave it to proof until almost doubled.
    10. Brush top with some milk and sprinkle on extra orange sugar (if there is any).
    11. Bake  in a preheated oven at 175C for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.  
    12. Remove the bread from the pan after 10 minutes and brush the top with melted butter if preferred.
    1. This recipe is half the portion of the one posted by Veronica.
    2. I have used my breadmaker instead of using a mixer to knead the dough.  If you are using a mixer, mix ingredients in B then add in A followed by C.  Knead until it is smooth and elastic (i.e. able to stretch it into a thin membrane without breaking).
    3. I used zest from 1 orange only since the juice collected was enough for the required amount.  


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