Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I have come to realize that cooking vegetables by stir frying them (chinese style) is really very easy, as easy as abc. Honestly. All you need is the vegetables and it could be any leafy greens or broccoli or cauliflower with some shredded ginger, chopped garlic, a little salt and some Shao Hsing Hua Tiao Chiew (chinese cooking wine and this item is really optional).
You just have to heat up a little oil, put it the garlic and ginger when the oil is hot. Stir it abit until they turn aromatic. Put in the vegetables and if the pan/wok is too dry, sprinkle some water with your fingers into the pan/wok. DO NOT pour in the water as this will make the dish too watery. Add in the salt for taste. Optionals will be the Shao Hsing Hua Tiao Chiew (chinese cooking wine) and the light soya sauce.
Another important thing that my mum tells me never to do when stir frying vegetables..... NEVER cover the wok/pan whilst the vegetables are simmering. This will turn them yellow and limp (lembek). Always use a little oil as this will give the vegetable a light shiny sheen. See, stir fry vegetables are as easy as ABC :)
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
This is going to be a very busy day for me, with a long meeting that is going to start at 11am. And I didn't even have time to run upstairs to pass some of the banana cake I made to the test bunnies. Had to get another colleague to bring it up when she goes up later.
I was just wondering how come the recipe was called Banana Bread? Sure looked more like a cake than a bread to me. But anyway, I did it as I have about 7 pieces left from a lovely bunch of bananas I bought to make banana muffins over the weekend. So, instead of eating it up just like that (which I did, I ate 2), I decided to try out this Banana Bread recipe from one of my Merpati recipe books (Popular Cakes & Kuih). I used their recipe with a little cinnamon and nutmeg added to enhance the taste a little bit more. This is their recipe reproduced below:-
300g castor sugar
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
a few drops of banana essence
5 ripe bananas (peeled and mashed)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda*
a little salt
75ml of milk#
1tsp lime juice#
* sifted together
# mix and leave aside for 10mins
- Cream butter and sugar til creamy and light
- Beat in eggs, a little at a time
- Add banana essence and mashed bananas. Fold in sifted flour and milk alternately.
- Pour mixture into a greased pan 9x5x3 in or 23x13x7.5 cm tin
- Bake in a preheated oven at 175C or 350F for 30 minutes or until the bread is golden in color and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
- Cook in tin for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Hope the bunnies liked it :)
Friday, April 25, 2008
This is a simple blackcurrant cupcake recipe which could be done reasonably quickly and the reason why I baked these was that I needed a base to "play" with my butter cream icing. I have been wanting to try out this type of icing as I know that they are a whole lot nicer to eat than royal icing.
The recipe which I used for the cupcake was taken from Ling's Passion's blog for her Strawberry Jam Filled Cupcakes, except I used blackcurrant fillings and reduced the filling volume as I was afraid that they might leak out. The recipe has been reproduced below:-
4 large eggs
160g castor sugar
250g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla essence
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla essence till light and fluffy.
Mix in eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition.
Then fold flour into cake mixture.
Fill paper cup with 1 tbsp of cake batter and make a small well in the middle of the batter.
Spoon 1/2 tsp of blackcurrant into the well.
Cover the jam with another tbsp of cake batter.
Bake in oven pre-heated to 160C for 15 to 20 minutes.
The butter cream icing which I tried is also a very simple one which I got off the net but for the life of me, I cannot recall the website I took it from. Oh dear... but it is a rather standard recipe.
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
About 2 tablespoons milk
- With an electric mixer at low speed, mix the powdered sugar and butter together. Once combined, add vanilla and milk. Increase speed of mixer to medium and beat for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth and of spreading consistency.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
This is a case where I "ng kam sum" which means "not satisfied". Since I started playing with my bread machine, I have yet to get the right recipe for soft bread with my machine. Of course the latest attempt was using bread improver but babe pointed me to Yochana's Cake Delight's blog, with specific reference to her Roti Keset. Wah.. the bread looks so cottony soft that I decided to give it a try. I was not going to attempt the full roti keset which Aunty Yochana did as I would be too embarrassed when the bread turn out looking nothing like her Roti Keset but what I did was to use her dough recipe and added raisins and almond slivers to the bread.
My sole intention was to see if my bread machine could turn out a bread very close to Aunty Yochana's as it was my theory that hand made bread will always have a better texture and bread machine-made breads will always be a close second only, at best.
I used the exact ingredients for the dough as Aunty Yochana except for the margarine. I didn't have margarine at home. Instead, I used shortening. I have reproduced the list of ingredients here and have placed it in the order of loading them into the bread machine.
130g of cold water
2 large eggs
75g of shortening (or margarine)
300g of Bread flour (sieved)
100g of Plain flour (sieved)
20g of milk powder
75g of sugar
11g of Instant Yeast
100g of golden raisins
100g of almond slivers
All the ingredients (except for the raisins and the almonds) were placed into the bread machine pan and I selected Menu Option 3 for wholemeal grains. I did that as I had to add the raisins and the almond only when the machine started on the 2nd kneading cycle.
My opinion? This is the best tasting and the best bread texture I have gotten out of my machine todate and I am quite happy (finally haha). However, I still think that handmade bread will always have the superior texture over machine-made bread. But I love fresh bread (oooo especially the smell of fresh bread) but lazy to do all the work, the bread machine is the closest thing to fresh bread for me :)
Monday, April 21, 2008
The weekend had just gone by in a blink of an eye but I had fun. Didn't have much time to play "masak-masak" (cooking) at home as I signed up for a beginners class in baking with Apple Kitchen. To show you how "raw" I was in this kind of thing, when the instructor Melinda mailed me to ask me to bring a pair of scissors and a cutter, I really didn't know what kind she meant. So, what I did was to bring me the biggest pair of scissors I could find in the house and a dough cutter. Luckily when I was there, she didn't ask me to bring out my equipment since she had sufficient cutters and scissors for us to use. We were using a sharp tipped small scissors and a blade *embarassed*.
The classes are normally kept very small and this Satarday, there was only Susan and myself. Got there with minimal hassle as the directions given by Melinda was clear. Started almost on the dot at 9:30am.
The lessons for the day included Orange Muffins, Royal Icing and Fondant. I must say it was tremendously fun for me. Melinda is very down to earth and for a total beginner like myself, she explains everything very clearly. And never once did I feel small or stupid for not knowing what she mean by some of ingredients. (I always thought the glycerin was what you put on you skin, not in your food.. there you see, I did learn some thing in class besides just salivating the entire time waiting for the muffins to cook *heehee*).
Susan was a great classmate. She has a slight advantage over me as she has helped and also watched her mother make moon cakes, chiffon cakes and a gamut of other stuff. We clicked quite well as we could chat, and laugh whilst creating our fondant monsters. Our first time efforts are nothing really to shout about but we did learn what we set out to and the best part of it is that we "baked up" a new friendship. Looking forward to the next class.
PS. This is really a simple no frills class. If you are going to expect Wilton type of posh posh set up, then I reckon you might be disappointed. However, if you are like me, who would really like to learn the basics, no frills and no pressure, then Apple Kitchen is a great place to start.
By the way, the Baking Class Schedule for May is already out. I am considering the Cheesecake & Tiramisu class :)
Friday, April 18, 2008
I had a sudden craving for tom yam soup and I blame it on the weather. I was looking for the simplest recipe that I could find over the next and in recipe books and other than using those pre-packed tom yam paste, I found several. What I did was improvised as some of them had ingredients that I didn't know what they were, let alone where to get them. So, made a list of the ingredients and went to the wet market, towing babe and JW with me. Managed to pick up all the stuff that I needed but the best part of shopping in a wet market is that you get free stuffs. I was as the vegetable stall to buy 6 extra large fresh red chillies (not for the soup, but for something else) and asked to have a stalk of spring onions. The auntie said "RM2 for the chillies. The spring onion auntie *chia lu* (belanja/gift)". See, I don't see any of the hypermarkets giving me free spring onions even when the grocery bill runs up to several hundred ringgit :(.
This is about the simplest soup plus the quickest I have ever made. I cooked it in a pot over the stove but the leftovers were just chucked into the slow cooker to preserve. Maybe there will still be some left when I come home tonite.
10 fresh prawns (cleaned and trim off feelers, legs and all sharp bits
2 white squids (cut into bite size)
100g of chicken breast meat (cubed)
2 stalks of lemon grass
2 inches of galangal (lengkuas)
6 pieces of kaffir leaves
6 pieces of chilli padi
2 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of chillie oil
600ml of water
spring onions for garnishing
- Heat up a little oil in a pot and if you have the clay pot, it is even better.
- Throw in the galangal and lemon grass. Stir them around and when they turn fragrant, pour in the water.
- When the water starts to boil, put in the all the rest of the ingredients and keep stirring until it boils.
- Add a little salt and sugar for taste.
- Ready for consumption anytime.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
When you have lots of fruits in the house and they are going to rot faster than you could eat them, the best way to get rid of them would be to cook them up into a dish and if that is the only other dish available for the meal, people you invite to have dinner with you will have no choice but to down them... haha.. it is either that or plain rice with soya sauce or marmite soup.
I bought some lovely mangoes recently and they are pretty cheap, if not very cheap. They are almost 20cm in length, very sweet and going at RM10 for 5 pieces. There are lots of fruits in the fridge that were becoming over ripe pretty fast so I decided to cook up this super unusual dish which I call Prawns with Mango & Fruits.
20 pieces of White Prawns, deveined, cleaned and drained.
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 Big Onion (diced)
2 Oranges (only the juice is used)
5 Water Chestnuts (diced)
3 Jambu Air (apparently this is call Water Apple) (diced)
1 mango (diced)
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp Olive Oil
- Put in 2 tsp of sugar into the clean prawns and leave aside for a short while. The sugar will make the prawns nice and "crunchy" (for want of a better word).
- Just before cooking, a quick rinse of the prawns or the dish might be very sweet. Put in the cornflour and toss the prawns in it.
- Heat up some oil in the wok and when the oil is hot, put in the prawns.
- Stir the prawns around until they turn pink and starts to curl up. Dish them up and set them aside.
- Meanwhile, squeeze the juice out of the oranges.
- Add in a tsp of lemon juice to give it that little tartness (optional)
- Heat a the olive oil in a non-stick pan. When the oil is hot, put in the onion.
- Add the orange (with lemon) juice and put to boil on a low heat.
- Add in all the fruits except the mango. Put the mango last as they are very soft and too much cooking will make them squishy
- Add in the prawns and make sure the orange juice covered all the ingredients in the pan.
- Add 1 tsp of cornflour if there is too much liquid in the pan (certain oranges produces more juice)
- Put in the mango last before dishing up.
- Garnish with some parsley and serve.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I was chatting with suesue of Cooking Momster-My Kitchen on Friday night on MSN and we were talking of our respect failures in making the perfect bread dough. That was when she recommended that I tried the pau recipe that given inside the box of Blue Key brand of Pau Flour. I wasn't sure if I was confident enough to make paus but then I thought to myself, don't try don't know wor :).
So, on Saturday night (don't know why but I seem to have inspirations to bake after dark. Maybe I was some kind of nocturnal animal in my past life or something) I went to the kitchen armed with the pau recipe to check if I have all the necessary ingredients. Goody, I have but also because it is a very simple recipe, which I reproduced below.
Basic Pau Dough
Blue Key Pau Dough 500g (1/2 a box)
Instant Yeast 6g (1tsp)
Sugar 100g (1/2 cup)
Shortening/Corn Oil 50g (1/4 cup)
Water 250g (1 1/2 cups)
I was too lazy to do this by hand so what I did was to dump everything into the bread machine. The pau dough turned out ok, soft and all. I used the red bean paste that I bought from the bake ware shop last week and I also cooked some meat for the filling for the following day.
Ingredients for the meat filling
600g of minced meat
4 chopped water chestnuts
2 stalks of chinese parsley (chopped)
1 tsp of chicken stock granules
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp of corn starch
1tsp of sesame oil
All the ingredients for the meat filling were mixed together and left overnight in the fridge ready for the paus the following day.
My only complain is my own pau folding technique. These paus are definitely not ready for public consumption yet as they are don't have that commercial look. Suesue advised me to do it often as this technique takes a lot of practice. Okie.. suesue.. will do as you advise and hopefully the next batch of paus will be a improvement to look at :)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I am sure that by now with the US elections thingy going on, most of us will know who Mr John McCain is. If you don't know, he is currently one of the candidate for the US Presidential post. But how many of us know of Mrs Cindy McCain, his missus? Well, I for one didn't until I stumbled upon this writeup. It read "McCain "Family Recipes" Lifted from the Food Network". Apparently Mrs McCain has been caught plagiarizing recipes from the Food Network sites. Several of Mrs McCain's recipes which she called her "Family Recipes" were lifted word for word off the Food Network. Read the report here.
This is a dish where my mum will fix up for us when she cannot think of anything else better to feed us with when we were kids. She knows that we will eat rice by the bowlfuls as this dish is rather sweet and all kids if not most love sweet foods. This is really a no-frill home-cooked dish. I am not sure if you made it with other sorts of meat, the outcome will be the same. It is just the texture of pork is different from chicken and beef. I suppose if some one is game to try it with beef, do let me know the results :)
600g pork belly (uncut)
250g superior dark sauce
250ml of water
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Heat up the non-stick pot and put in the chopped garlic.
- Stir it a bit and add in the superior dark sauce
- Add in the water and the sugar and turn off the heat.
- Put in the pork belly into the pot and coat the pork with the sauce.
- Leave the pork in the pot for an hour to marinade.
- After 1 hour, heat up the pot and turn the pork around.
- Leave on very low fire and let the pork simmer in the sauce.
- Cook the pork for another hour. Turn it around every now and then to make sure that the pork is cooked evenly.
- Remove the pork and when it is cool enough to be handled, cut it into slices about 1/2 cm thick (or you could have it thicker if you want).
- Serve with piping hot rice would be nice.
I got a packet of puff pastry one weekend with the intention of making some yummy snacks. But got kind of lazy and didn't do much with it. Opened the packet last Friday to do the potpie and decided to use it for something simple like sardine puffs. Also since I have opened the packet, I didn't want to leave it in the fridge too long.
Not too deft with shaping tarts and puffs so I had to make do with very simple designs. The first few sardine rolls were done with using only 1 piece of the puff pastry. Didn't turn out well at all as I must have put too much filling (greedy me) in to the puff that as they wear baking in the oven, the puffs all burst open..looked like they were yawning. Ate them up nevertheless...just so as to dispose off the evidence of "accident case" looking sardine puffs.
For the second batch, I decided to use 2 pieces of pastry to make one puff. They turned out rather flat this time. Could I have put in too little fillings this time?? Oh well, back to the drawing board for me. By the way, the pastry texture is so-so. Will try other brands later, that is when I am to lazy to experiment with making my own puff pastry :).
The Sardine filling is simply a tin of Sardines in Ketchup, 3 shallots sliced with some lime juice added to it and 1 red chillie chopped.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The weekend had been a rather slow one, recovering from sore eyes - Conjunctivitis. Attempted only the more exciting stuff on Sunday but on Friday, I decided on having something interesting besides bread with kaya and butter, which was what I have for lunch and dinner on Thursday, when I was first diagnosed with sore eyes.
Wanted to make just a clear chicken and mushroom soup but decided to put a little umph into the presentation. The chicken soup was a simple one which I threw in some chicken ribs, some chicken breast meat, 2 potatoes, 1/2 an onion, 4 fresh button mushrooms, diced, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Remove the chicken breast meat to be shredded. Put it back into the soup and put on slow heat for about an hour to bring out the goodness from the chicken. Add a little cornstarch to thicken up the soup.
Once the soup was ready, I just ladled up some into an oven safe mug, placed 2 slices of the puff pastries over the pot, put it in for about 15mins or when the pastry started to brown. Remove it from the oven and enjoyed it with some yummy egg & turkey ham toast ... and with the weather turning overcast outside, it felt like the middle of Autumn...
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
After my two attempts with the Bread Machine, I was searching for the reason(s) as to why my bread turned out so coarse and basically hard. I had comments coming from friends (mainly my sifu bloggers *wink*) and some how, I still couldn't figure where I went wrong. Anyway, I went with babe to the bake ware shop downtown in Petaling Street during lunch time last week to buy some baking stuff and at the same time to get a little advice on this bread making thingy.
They gave me some bread recipes and told me that I should add either some Bread Softener or Bread Improver into my recipe (it is either one or the other, not both). So, I decided to listen to them and during the weekend, I looked through their list of recipes and decided to go for the Sultana Bread recipe as I still have a packet of sultanas in the cabinet.
I used the ingredients as listed but I adapted the sequence of putting in the ingredients to that Bread Machine. Whilst I was putting in the ingredients, I noticed that this recipe recommended cold water. In the previous 2 attempts, the recipe book that came with the Bread Machine only mentioned water, which I put in room temperature water. Every other ingredient seems similar, with the exception of the 2 tbsp of Bread Improver which I added to the batter.
I am glad to say that this time, my bread turned out to be more palatable than the first 2. The texture of this is definitely softer and as I selected medium crust, this loaf has a more appetizing appearance. I did this on Saturday evening, so I didn't have any left to bring to work for the test bunnies. Didn't want it to mold like the 1st one. So, next time lah.. my little test bunnies at work :)
The bake ware shop's recipe for the sultana bread is this...
280ml cold water
1 1/2 tsp Instant Dry Yeast
2 tbsp Margarine (I substituted this with Veg Oil)
400gm High Protein Flour (Bread Flour)
1/2 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Butter Milk Powder
1/4 tsp Bread Improver
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Oh dear, it must be the time of the year again when the flu bugs starts biting. I was away for the weekend and yesterday for the Qing Beng and when I came back, I found that some of my friends (and blogger mates) are down with the coughs and the flu. Must blame it all on the weather. My mum too was having a very bad throat over the weekend, with fever too. This is a time when the best remedy is rest and lots of fluids, no fried foods and no spicy foods too. Soup is a very good source of nutrients and easy to take in too. Over the weekend, I managed to boil 2 types of soup. The fist one that I did was a very simple soup which my mum calls it the ABC soup. It is actually a chicken soup (broth) with carrots, tomatoes, onions and potatoes. She calls it the ABC soup as it is supposed to have vitamins A, B and C in this soup or actually she meant that this soup is as easy to cook as ABC... :D
Yup, this soup is exceptionally simple to make and it is actually considered a clear soup. Sometimes, you can also add peppercorns to it but not if you are having a sore throat.
3 pieces of chicken drumsticks (thigh)
1 big onion
salt to taste
- Put 3000ml of water into a pot to boil
- When the water is boiling, add in the chicken, onion and potatoes. Boil for 10 minutes in high heat.
- Add in some slightly crushed pepper corns (optional)
- Turn the heat down and add in the carrots and tomatoes.
- Leave it to boil at this heat for about an hour.
- Add some salt and a little pepper to taste before serving.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The 2nd try I did it reading the instructions booklet back to front and following their recipe almost to a T. When the bread was done, looked like bread and smells like bread. It is rather pale looking as I selected the light crust option. There are 2 more shades of crust I can select.
When I sliced it, it looked pretty alright to me.
But when I touched it, it looked kind of coarse to me. Mmm.. it didn't have the texture of Gardenia's bread. When I ate it, that is when I could really tell the difference. It did not have that smooth soft texture.
It was like those cheap brandless roti (bread) we use to buy from the kedai runcit (sundry shops). Easier to swallow down if you steam it first or dunk it into your coffee.
Tried to toast it and eat it with my special omelette with tomatoes and lettuce.
Geez, my bread reminded me of a loofah..that people scrub their bodies with :(
I wonder what went wrong... I have discussed this with babe and she is helping me figure this out.. but I would welcome any and all suggestion to help me improve my texture of the bread. I have reproduced the recipe (this is from the Bread Machine) here :-
White Bread (Bread Machine Recipe) - Loaf size 500g
Unbleached White Bread Flour 350g
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 2 tsp
Vegetable Oil 2 tbsp
Easy blend dry yeast 1 tsp
Thank you.... :)
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I love to eat prawns and you can virtually cook them in whatever way and I'll still eat them. I was at Mid Valley yesterday, mainly to settle my overdue Maxis handphone bill and also to try and get me some porky balls to make porky balls porridge...thanks to my fav Superheroes super bloggers. They always inspire me to search for better foods to eat :D.
I managed to get my pork balls but along the way, I also saw that they had very fresh white prawns at the supermarket and I decided, what the heck, I can always try do to a simple prawn dish to go with my porky balls porridge. So, decided to just get 12 of these babies back (haven't really decided what to do with them yet at this stage).
Got home, put the rice into the rice pot for my porridge and opened the fridge to find out what is in there. Saw a half used tin of evaporated milk and some curry leaves which were drying up. That gave me an idea. I'll just do my version of Prawns cooked in butter and milk.
The ingredients and method is very simple and it might not be really the full blown recipe for Butter Prawns that you would find elsewhere. For the more authentic Prawn recipes, you could try these sites :
Babe in the City - KL
Cooking Momster - My Kitchen
But if you wanted something simple like mine, then all you need are :-
12 medium/large prawns
2 tsp of cornflour
1 tbsp of oil
1 globs of butter (haha about 2 tsp)
1/3 tin of evaporated milk
2 sprigs of curry leaves
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 red chilli (chopped)
salt and sugar to taste
- Wash and drain prawns (I chopped off the front part of the prawns' heads as they are very sharp and dangerous).
- Put in the cornflour onto the prawns and stir it abit.
- Heat up the oil in the wok and stir in the prawns until they turn orange in color. Remove prawns from the wok and set aside.
- Put in the butter into the wok and when hot, add the garlic.
- When the garlic turns fragrant, add in the evaporated milk.
- Stir until the liquid thickens, then add in the chilli and the curry leaves.
- Add sugar and salt to taste.
- Pour in the prawns and mix well.
- Remove and serve with steamed hot rice (in my case, hot porky balls porridge)
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Thanks to Babe, I managed to successfully do a Pak Tong Ko (Chinese Sugar Sponge Cake). My first attempt was a total disaster and my brother could have been scarred far life now..haha.. coz he has always love to eat Pak Tong Ko .. until he met my first attempt at it. I shan't even mention where I got that other recipe form. I do believe that it could have been a wonderful recipe for Glue :)
My second attempt was retrieving the recipe off Babe's post and as she recommended, I put in the whole 150g of sugar. It turned out looking like Pak Tong Ko, smelling and evening tasting like Pak Tong Ko. As the recipe didn't really produce a lot of the Ko, I ate some and gave what little left to some neighbours. I can't wait to do it again this coming week to show my brother that I can make successful Pak Tong Ko .... if I followed a the right recipe :).
I have reproduced the recipe here which Babe posted. Credits must be given to Florence of Do What I Like for sharing with us her marvelous recipe.
A) 170g sieved rice flour
130 - 150g castor sugar
B) 3/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp warm water
1. Mix (B) and leave aside for 10 minutes for use later
2. Mix (A) together well and cook over slow heat stirring all the time till a little thicken (this process should not be more than 5 minutes otherwise the mixture will have sago pearls forming). Sieve this mixture into a big mixing bowl and cooled it in a basin of water.
3. Mix (1) and (2) together and blend well. Cover the mixture with glad wrap and prove in a warm place for 1 - 2 hours. When the mixture show signs of bubbles all over the surface then it is ready for steaming.
4. Pour the ready batter into a 19.5cm x 19.5 cm greased pan and steam on high heat for 20 -25 minutes.
5. Cut into serving pieces when cool.