Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Celebration Day !

There's a few birthday celebrations today. How lucky to have your birthday falls on August 31st, the whole nation celebrates with you !

What a coincidence, the cakes today are all cream based with fruit filling. My Kitchen Aid (KA) had been hardworking, whipping rounds after rounds of double cream, I must have used 3 1L pack of double cream ! I find chilling the bowl of my KA mixer makes whipping much easier, I get a perfectly stiff whipped cream. I've used chilled plastic bowl for my double cream but sometimes I get cream that refuse to whip, which is too soft for icing a cake.

This is a durian cake, probably the last one for this season. My supplier told him the next batch of durian will be available maybe end October.

A lemon cotton cheesecake. My cheesecake is without any icing but since I've whipped extra cream, I piped some on top of the cake for the same person who's having the durian cake as well. How lucky, to have 2 birthday cakes on his birthday !

Blackforest cake
A Taiwanese friend's son, whom we call Di Di turns 2 today. Last year, he had a cotton cheese cake with train set decoration. His mum tried JF's blackforest cake & wanted the same cake for his birthday with lots of sweets.

A whopping 3.5kg mango cake for a sweet grandpapa who's 61 today. As the mango season is over, I had a hard time looking for mangoes around KK, managed to get some @ the Fillipinoes market, they were big, juicy & rather sweet but the cost were more expensive than when they were abundant !

After everyone has collected their cakes in the late afternoon, I finally have time to take a short nap, off to a quick dinner & thereafter hubby & I brought the girls to watch "You don't Mess With the Zohans". I've never really like Adam Sandler but think he's cool in the movie, with that funny accent & those dance moves !

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cupcakes For JF !

JF requested that I bake another cake for her to bring to school to celebrate her birthday even though it was over. I though cupcakes would be a better idea for kids, she was happy with it so I went ahead to check with her teacher the number of kids in her class. There is 17 of them but some are not back from holiday. To be sure everyone has a cupcake, I let her bring 18 cupcakes to school today.
This is a vanilla cupcake with butter cream frosting. I baked the cupcakes in a party hat design cupcake case from Wilton, just nice for a kid's party. After a few attempts, I've come to understand the tactics of piping, thus doing it better now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Prawn Wonton Noodle Soup

The lunch we had this afternoon was too heavy. I wasn't really hungry at dinner time but hungry or not, I won't skip any of my 3 meals or else my gastric is going to give me a hard time later at night !
The stock of this noodle was made last Saturday with the chicken bones that I got from the market, after straining it was kept in the refrigertor until today. I've added some prawn shells to the stock to further flavour the stock.
The wonton was made with 1/2 kg prawns, shelled, deveined & chopped, 1 sprig each of chopped spring onion & Chinese celery, seasoned with some salt, sugar, pepper, ginger juice, sesame oil, Shao Tsing wine, corn flour to bind, stir the mixture in 1 direction until sticky. With this mixture, I managed to make 30 wontons. I've always like bowls of noodle soup, anytime, so tomorrow's lunch for hubby & I will be this as well, saves the hassle of cooking, since the girls will be off to school tomorrow.

Fish & Chips

JF wanted fish & chips for lunch today. It was easy as I've already have some breaded dory fillet in my freezer. I wanted to get crinkle cut fries but she wanted shoe string instead, this packet of fries was a mistake, they were mostly broken so I ended up with many small bits of overcooked fries which went into the bin. This coleslaw is a healthy version, I made it with both white & purple cabbage & carrot, cut with the slicer attcachment of my food processor. The dressing is made with 1 small container of yoghurt, juice of half a lemon, 1 grated onion, 3Tbsp of mayo & sugar to taste. I did not add any salt to the dressing & I only combined the dressing with the cabbage/carrot mixture upon serving because we don't like soggy coleslaw.

I've also baked some little chocolate molten cakes for dessert. I've used Valrhona 55% dark chocolate for these cakes. I probably didn't grease & flour the rameskins well, some part of the crust was stuck to the rameskins, that's why we got such ugly cakes ! This one is the 'prettiest' of all that I've baked, sigh....... the last time we had this was about 1 1/2 years ago !

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jana Faith is 6 Years Old Today !

We had dinner at Kung last Saturday to celebrate JF's birthday ! There were 12 of us but 7 are kids so you can imagine how 'noisy' the gathering was.....
She had a blackforest cake for her birthday. Instead of the usual 2 layer filling, I only filled the cake with 1 layer of whipped double cream & pitted dark cherries, the sponge was brushed with some kirsch infused cherry syrup before frosting.

It's no longer colouring books & crayons that keep the kids occupied while the adults are enjoying themselves over food & drinks. They had their Nintendo DS with them. CJ got one from my sister on her BD this year & my friends' kids each had their own one so poor JF is the only one who doesn't have a DS, so after a phone call back home, I got my sister to get her one DS too, what a generous 'yee yee' she has !!!

The kids had chicken & beef bulgogi to share among them. We had a feast of meat, meat & more meat. The restaurant served a marinated pan fried rib dish which was very tasty, priced at RM30/portion (400g). They also serve a belly pork lookalike braised pork dish served with cucumber & onion salad, hubby loves the salad, it's also priced at RM30/portion. Since I don't take fatty meat, I got to remove any fatty part before eating, the flavour was good, I think I could taste mirin/sake in it. We also had shabu-shabu with beef slices, this was really good, paper thin beef slices, no fat, with lots of vegetables ! I have totally forgotten to snap pictures of the food while eating, guess I'm not quite a blogger yet !! Found few pictures that my friend has taken of the food in my camera but not a single one on those wonderful meats, haha......

We had a great time, the kids had a even greater time, playing the DS whole night without mummy nagging but that's not good, 4-5 hours of continuous play, I could see that their eyes were tired by the time we left past midnight.

I planned a nice lunch today but engaged in some matters so didn't have time to cook. JF was ok that I cook for her tomorrow instead & her 2nd cake with the lunch.

* Kung is open daily from 5pm - 2am, contact number 016 5881429.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Black Sesame Buns

I've always like black sesame, in sesame sweet soup, chiffon cake & bread as well. As sesame contains its own natural oil, these buns keep well, still moist even after 2 days ! These buns are made with organic black sesame powder & I've added some toasted black sesame seeds from Japan. I've tried using black sesame seeds from China but found that they are not as aromatic as the Japanese ones.
I used to make my buns in muffin cups because I'm not good in shaping buns. Even though the buns are pretty in muffin cups, I find it a waste to be throwing away the cups all the time. After few attempts of shaping our buns, I'm better in rounding up those dough balls now & I'm happy that I've done a better job now.....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Busy Saturday !

I think I've been lazing around for too long, yes 6 weeks is a long long time. Besides baking & cooking (clearing my deep freezer in fact !), I've not been preparing food & freezing them for easy meals. My deep freezer is almost empty, got to do something since the girls going back to school....

After my morning run, I'm off to the market stalls at Foh Sang. Got some ribs at the butcher, a 'kampung chicken' & 2kg of chicken bones from the chicken seller, next to the fish mongers but didn't buy anything because hubby don't like smaller fish, so fillet is the only thing on my mind. We adore garouper but it's difficult to get fillet of this fish nowsadays, even snapper is nowhere to be seen, that completed my marketing.

After breakfast with hubby, I started my day of toiling in the kitchen. The 'kampung chicken' was packed into a container & sent into the freezer, for making soup next week. As for the chicken bones, I cut away all the neck attached to them as I find making stock with them 'scary' ! As usual, all the bones blanched, dumped into a large soup pot with onion, carrot, ginger, Jin Hua ham, spring onion, dried scallops & oh I found a bag of prawn shells in my freezer so that went into the pot too.

While the stock is cooking, I took out my slow cooker & soup pot from the kitchen cabinet, it's some Asian dessert time. I still have some dried bird's nest pieces that my mum gave me during my CNY trip home, so it's time I reward myself. I've used 8 pieces today, together with some American ginseng, 8 pandan leaves tied into a knot & some rock sugar, all these went into the soup pot, ready to be double-boiled. Oh, hubby saw on a TV programme that by adding boiled eggs to the pot, you get a nice aromatic sweet soup. So I tried with just 1 hard boiled egg, in fact you need to fill the bottom of the soup pot with hard boiled egg, I didn't know that only after the sweet soup is done, 6 hrs later. Nevertheless, it does give off a nice aroma when I lift the cover of the pot. I made the girls eat the egg, they said it was very sweet !

While the chicken stock & the bird's nest soup was cooking, I whipped up my cake batter for 2 cakes order. Now that the oven is baking too, I marinated the pork ribs that I bought this morning with some soya sauce, sugar, pepper, ginger juice, crushed garlic, Shao Hsing wine & set this aside for the flavour to penetrate the ribs.
The girls finished my last 2 pieces of apple streusel pie this morning, since I still have some pandan juice left from making the pandan swissroll few days ago, I whipped up another batter for a pandan chiffon cake, a healtier version, no coconut milk, of course the cake will not be as aromatic as one that contains coconut milk, but at least enough to satisfy my craving for cake today !

After all this, I deep fried the marinated ribs, placed them into a container as well & froze them so it'll be easier for me anytime I want to have some braised ribs. Saturday is the day I spend time on food preparation as I'm a person who gets really cranky when I'm busy with my baking & there's no almost ready food in the freezer that I could easily cook & serve at meal times !

Since there's no luck on fish fillet, I got to turn to frozen Dory fillet. I know that frozen taste is not great & the texture of this fish is soft but looks like this is my only choice. After thawing the fish fillets, I cut them into smaller pieces, seasoned them with a pinch of salt & lemon pepper, dredged them through flour, then beaten eggs & coat them with panko breadcrumbs. Every piece is lied flat on a try & sent to the freezer for them to firm up before I store them in zip-lock bag.
It's almost 3 pm when all these are done & I've produced 2 large bags of garbage !
At least now the freezer is packed, there's no worries about my girls' lunches next 1-2 weeks.
I was so busy & the kitchen so messy today, taking pictures didn't cross my mind. I'll post a few of the cakes that I've baked for the past week.
Tonight we're having dinner with friends & their kids, at least I can really relax, I've baked a black forest cake to bring to the gathering, will post it up when the cake is cut.....

Apple Streusel Pie

The weather has been cool these few afternoons & my mind started wandering for desserts again ! I was at a supermarket doing some grocery shopping last week & I noticed a bag of Granny Smith among some apples. Apple pie immediately crossed my mind so I grabbed a bag.
It was until yesterday morning that I finally started working on the pie. There's 10 apples in the bag, just nice for a pie, I like my pie with lots of apples ! My helper will be here only after lunch, so to be able to serve this for lunch, I'll have to peel & cut the apples myself, which I find it time consuming but what to do, the apples are smiling at me ........
I've used a disposable 9 " aluminum foil pie pan, no washing & greasing required.

Pastry :

100g Butter
45g Icing sugar
1/2 Egg
175g Flour
2 Tsp Milk powder

Mix butter & icing sugar till well combined, add egg & cream till smooth. Add in sifted flour & milk powder, mix until well blended.
Refrigerate the dough for 30 mins, roll between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 3-mm thickness & line the pie pan with the pastry. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.

Filling :

10 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled & cut into chunks
80g Sugar
20g Butter
60G sultanas
1 Tsp Cinnamon powder

Cook apples with sugar in a saucepan until sligtly softened, discard any liquid in the pan. Add butter, cinnamon powder & sultanas, mix well & set aside to cool.

Streusel Topping :

80g Cold butter
55g Icing sugar
100g Flour
40g Ground almonds
50g Walnuts, chopped

Cut the cold butter into smaller pieces, with fingertips, mix with the other ingredients until coarse paste consistency, refrigerate for 30mins.

Place the apple filling into the pastry shell & sprinkle the streusel topping over the filling. Bake at preheated 190C oven for 35-40 mins or until golden brown.

* I forgot to check the apples while they're cooking so it's a bit overcooked , thus the filling is too mushy this time, I prefer my apples still chunky. I've ommited the walnuts for the streusel topping as I run out of them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dumplings (饺子)

It has been months since I last made dumplings. This is JF's favourite, she can finish 6 of them in 10mins & I'm glad because she's a slow eater !
I'll usually prepare the filling a day before & do the wrapping the next day. I have high expectation of myself, I make it a point to cut the veggies in the filling equal sizes & not 'anyhow' chopping them, that's why I need 2 days to make a batch of dumplings !
Besides ribs, we hardly eat any pork so I make our dumplings with chicken breast. I loves chives (韭菜) so usually a big bunch of this goes into the filling, this time I tried using Chinese celery & they're good, so aromatic. Celery is one vege that I'll never eat, be it raw or cooked ! When a friend told me Chinese celery is good for the filling, I hesitated but decided to give it a try.

My method :

4 large chicken breast
2 round cabbage
2 bunch spring onion
1 bunch Chinese celery
1 onion
1 3" pc ginger
frozen gyoza wrappers

Sesoning :
chicken stock granules (optional)
sesame oil
soya sauce
Shao Tsing wine
1 egg

Remove skin & bone from the chicken breast & roughly mince the meat in a food processor. Chop the cabbage & leave them in a large bowl, sprinkle 2 tsp of salt on it, leave aside for 30 mins. After that, squeeze out all the water from the cabbage, add the cabbage to a large bowl with the minced chicken. Wash the spring onion & the Chinese celery, remove leaves & rough stems form the celery, finely chop them & combine with the chicken mixture. Grate the ginger & onion into the chicken mixture, mix well until well combined. Season to taste with salt, chicken stock granules (I used the No MSG type), sugar, pepper, sesame oil, Shao Tsing wine & soya sauce. I loves that sesame taste in my dumplings so I must have used at least 1/2 cup of it ! Add egg & enough corn flour to bind the mixture.
I have a habit of cooking a small ball of the filling in boiling water to test if the filling is tasty enough & I'll stop until I get the right taste. A friend once commented that I'm crazy & it really pissed me off. My thinking is that once the filling goes into the wrappers, it's too late to adjust the taste & each time I make dumplings it'll be more than 100 pcs, that's why I say I have high expectations of myself......
As for the wrappers, I've tried making with a friend but oh my, that took a long time & it was tiring, I can never get perfect round shape. My friend is good in this, with a 1 kg packet of medium-protein flour, according to her, it yields about 200 wrappers ! I got my wrappers from Recipes House @ Damai, they cost RM6.90 for about +/- 40 pcs. Got myself 4 packets this time & managed to produce 157 dumplings this afternoon ! I thought I could make 200 but still not enough, next time I'll add 1 more chicken breast & 1 each of these - cabbage, spring onion & Chinese celery.
They are still in the freezer, I'm waiting for them to firm up so I can transfer them to ziplock bag, anytime I'm busy or run out of idea to cook, these will be our quick meal. Moreover the girls are starting their new school year next Wednesday, these dumplings come handy in lunch boxes too !
Pasta sauce has been done last week, stacking nicely in the freezer, next on my list will probably be breaded chicken/prawns & meatballs, more ideas for the girls' lunches.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bloomers Again !

A friend, Y, has expressed her interest in bread making today. I'm glad to have found a 'kaki' in bread making. I'm really into bread making, it's so fun watching those bread dough rise. Once you're into it, you can make the same dough into other flavour with different filling, it's so versatile ! I've baked 2 loaves of bloomers again, studded them with dried cranberries (over-studded in fact !) I love making bread with all kinds of dried fruits, they are so yummy, be it cranberries, apricots, figs, sultanas, the list just goes on........ The bloomers today is definitely better than the last time, practise does shape better loaves !

This is a piece of pandan swissroll we had for breakfast today. Pandan spomge made from pure pandan juice & the filling is made with pandan juice too, it's called pandan kaya, no eggs though but it does contain coconut milk, the texture is quite similar to lemon curd. It's actually my Pandan Layer Cake made into a swissroll.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blueberry Pancakes

These blueberry pancakes are so fluffy, they are good even on their own, without butter or maple syrup. I chanced upon this pancake recipe while surfing the net one day. It has become our favourite pancake recipe since then. The seperation of the egg yolk & white made the pancakes really light & fluffy.
I like my pancakes thick so instead of 12 pcs, this recipe only gives me 10 pcs. Blueberries are only cheap in summer, other time I just use bananas with a dash of pure vanilla. I think apple might be good too, with cinnamon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Grilled Tiger Prawns

I'm in the mood for BBQ today. Must be out of my mind, in such a hot hot afternoon & when I was cooking outside those irritating flies were buzzing around like busy bees ! But it's worth every effort, hubby & the girls enjoyed the lunch. As usual, they had their steamed broccoli, with carrots this time & I also made a simple rice pilaf with basmati rice, onion, garlic & chicken stock.

Ingredients :

12 Tiger prawns
12 Bamboo skewers
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp corn starch
1 Tbsp Ginger & wine mixture

Marinade :
8 Shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp salted bean paste, minced
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp Chinese rose wine (玫瑰露)
1 Tbsp each of light & dark soya sauce
1/4 Cup water

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a saucepan, add shallots, cook till fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients & cook over low heat for 10 mins or until thickened, remove from heat & leave to cool.
Devein prawns, rub lightly with 1/2 tsp of salt & 1 tsp corn starch. Rinse & pat dry, mix with the ginger & wine mixture。
Drain prawns & mix with the cooled marinate for 1 hr. Thread prawns onto bamboo skewers.
Grill prawns till cooked through.

*I've doubled the recipe to feed the 4 of us.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quick Chicken Stroganoff

This is a very easy recipe, not much ingredients & won't take forever to prepare. The recipe is from Australia's Super Food Ideas. I simply adore this magazine & I have a friend who has been very kind to get me a copy each time she's in Australia !

Serves 4
Ingredients :

600g Chicken breast fillets
2 Tsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
4 Rashers rindless bacon, chopped
400g Button mushrooms, thickly sliced
3/4 Cup chicken stock
250g Cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Cooked fettuccine pasta, to serve

Cut chicken into medallions, place in a bowl, add paprika, toss well.
Heat 2 tsp oil in a large, deep, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat-high heat, add chicken, cook for 2 mins each side or unitl browned. Transfer to a plate.
Heat remaining oil in pan, add onion, garlic & bacon to pan. Cook, stirring, for 3 mins or until onion has softened & bacon browned. Add mushroom, cook for 2 mins or until mushroom has started to brown.
Return chicken to pan, add stock, cover & bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer, covered for 10 mins. Add tomatoes, simmer, covered for 10 mins or until chicken is cooked through & tomatoes have softened.
Remove from heat, stir in sour cream & parsley. Serve with pasta.

* I cut the chicken breast fillet into thick strip about 2" size so it'll be easier for the girls to eat. After browning the fillets, I removed them from the pan & put aside, only adding them when the dish is done, they were succulent, perfectly cooked. I get annoyed once when when hubby's friend said that only fools eat chicken breast ! Well, my girls grow up with chicken breast & I don't see any problem with that. I've added 1/2 cup of white wine to the dish & just realized that I've forgotten about the sour cream when I'm typing this. Nevertheless, it was good. I couldn't find flat-leaf parsley this time so just left it out & substituted the button mushroom with shimeji.
Instead of fettuccine, I've used penne.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Noodle With Preserved Szechuan Vegetable (榨菜肉丝面)

This is our favourite noodle dish, it's such a comfort food, I could eat it everyday if not for the preserved Szechuan vegetable, well just the noodle & soup will be so satisfying !

I made my stock from scratch, with 6 big pork bones, Jin Hua ham, ginger, onion, carrot & spring onion. All these went into the stock pot with enough water to cover the bones, bring to boil & turn down heat, let simmer for 8 hours. At the last 30 mins, I turn up the heat to let the stock boil again, like that cloudy soup in my noodle. Strain the stock, let cool & leave it in the refrigerator over night so the thick layer of fat on top can be easily removed. I can never get that white milky soup when I cook my pork bone stock, even after 10 hours, wonder how those ramen chains do it ???

As for the rou si (肉丝), I've used chicken breast fillet, marinated with sesame oil, soya sauce, sugar, pepper, Shao Hsing wine & corn flour. I bought 2 fists size preserved Szechuan vegetable, rough edges trimmed off & cut them into strips, rinsed & soaked in water for about 20 mins to remove the excess saltiness.
Heat oil in a pan, add the marinated chicken fillets, cook till browned, remove from pan. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic into the pan, cook till fragrant, add Szechuan vegetable, followed by 1 cup water. Bring to boil & let the vege simmer for 10 mins, add a dash of sesame oil, soya sauce, Shao Hsing wine & 1 Tbsp sugar. Taste can be adjusted to individual's preference. Add the chicken fillet into the pan, mix well, thicken the sauce with a little corn flour mixture.
I usually buy my noodle from the corner coffee shop @ Bornion Centre, next to the mini-market. I buy them by kilo, portion them accordingly & freeze them for later use. The texture of this noodle is just like the frozen ramen that Recipes House is selling !
After removing the fat layer from the stock, bring it to boil & season to taste.
Cook the noodle in boiling water & plunge into cold water to stop it from cooking & for that Al-Dente texture. Place noodle into serving bowl, laddle the hot stock into the bowl, top with the preserved vegetable & meat, with a sprinkle of chopped spring onion, my comfort food is ready to be served..........

Yellow Dragon Fruit

While I was at the mini-market at Bornion Centre, a basket of yellowish fruit caught my attention. Well, it does look like dragon fruit (pitaya) but much smaller & 'uglier' ! I was told that it's indeed dragon fruit, this variety is rare but very sweet. Since it's rare so I supposed the price must be steep. I was right, these cost RM18/kg, I got myself 8 of these & they cost RM28.00 !

The girls find this strange looking fruit weird. When I cut one for CJ, she gave me that look that read " r you sure this can be eaten ?", however she tried it & wow she said it's very very sweet, so JF wanted it too after seeing her sister trying it ! I tried one myself, well it's indeed very sweet, the texture of the flesh is like persimmon & the seeds are bigger than the red skinned variety. The Yellow Dragon Fruit is indeed worth trying, I'm happy with it........

Baked Rice

It's been very very hot lately, making me tired & lazy to think of what to cook each weekday. Finally yesterday was cooler. Since I didn't go marketing in the morning, we have to make do with stuff in the freezer. An easy baked rice recipe that I got from Women's Weekly magazine crossed my mind.

Ingredients :

30g Butter
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 Cup mixed frozen vegetables
1/2 cup Button mushroom
1/2 cup Sliced ham
1/2 Cup Cream
2 Cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups Pasta sauce
2 Cups mozzarella & cheddar cheese combination
1 Tbsp Italian herbs
salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a pan, add garlic cook till fragrant. Add mixed vegetables, button mushrooms & ham, stir until heated through. Add cream, herbs, salt & pepper to taste, mix well. Add rice to the pan & toss well, transfer rice mixture to a casserole dish & flatten the top with thye back of a spoon. Spread pasta sauce over the top evenly & spread the cheese over the sauce. Bake in a preheated oven of 190C for 20 mins or until cheese is bubbly & brown.

* I baked the rice in a 9" glass pie pan & the pasta sauce is home-made. Instead of the Italian herbs mentioned in the recipe, I've used Herbes de Provence that I got from Jason's Supermarket, loved the lavender in it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hummingbird Cupcakes With Marmalade Icing

I bought 2 honey pineapples last Saturday & bad luck this time, they were not sweet at all. Knowing that hubby & the girls would not want to eat them, I chopped them up, will make them into pineapple jam for pineapple tarts later.

I was looking through my cupcake recipe books this morning while waiting for the girls to finish their cereals, this hummingbird cupcakes recipe caught my attention again. In fact the ingredients caught my attention, banana, pineapple, coconut, oh so tropical ! I've always wanted to bake some but thought of getting a can of pineapples just to use 90g is a waste so I put this recipe off for quite some time. But hey, I have some fresh pineapples in the fridge, there's 2 overripe banana as well, so right after lunch, I started my preparation for hummingbird cupcakes.

Why are they called hummingbird cupcakes ?? The most plausible story is that its sweetness attracts children like nectar attracts hummingbirds, I think it's sweetness will attract anybody..........

The recipe is adapted from 500 Cupcakes & Muffins by Fergal Connolly

Ingredients :
for the cupcakes

125g Plain flour
1tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
125g Caster sugar
120ml Safflower oil
2 Eggs
150g Mashed bananas
1 1/2 Tbsp Grated orange zest
60g Grated carrot
90g Canned pineapple, crushed
60g Desiccated coconut

for the icing
115g Unsalted butter, softened
150g Icing sugar, sieved
2 Tbsp Orange juice
2 Tbsp Orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 175C. Place 12 baking cases in a muffin pan. in a medium bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder & cinnamon. In a mixer, cream the sugar & oil until light & fluffy, beat in the eggs, one at a time. At low speed, stir in flour mixture in 3 batches. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix till well combined. Spoon batter into the cases, bake for 25 mins, let cool in pan for 5 mins. Remove cupcakes & cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, beat butter until creamy, add remaining ingredients, continue to beat till fluffy, smear onto cupcakes.

* I've reduced the caster sugar to 100g & changed the safflower oil to canola oil. Instead of dessicated coconut, I've used coconut flakes which can be found in the chiller section of baking supplies shop. I like my cupcake to rise above the baking case, so next time I'll just fill 10 cases. As for the icing, I've used 100g butter & 100g icing sugar, 3 Tbsp of orange juice & while I was whipping the icing, I realized that I run out of marmalade, luckily my apricot preserves came to the rescue ! Next time I'll do it with marmalade.
I ate 2 cupcakes right after I iced them, I know I'm guilty about it, I didn't have lunch was my excuse..........

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hayle Is 1 !

This cake is made for Hayle's 1st birthday. She has the same birthday as Singapore, who turns 43 today ! It's a chocolate cake, a whopping 3kg. Her mummy requested for this '1' cake for her little princess.
My niece's name is Hayley too & she just turned 3 years old on August 4.

I looked through my decoration books & found this idea of drawing alphabets on the cake, think it's nice on kids' cakes. I whipped up a batch of vanilla butter cream, divided it into few bowls & tinted them in different pastel shades for piping onto the cake. Loved the butterflies & the little fairy deco too, all thanks to Jeri, who brought it back from Australia.........

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Cake For Naldo !

I remembered Naldo had a soccer theme cake for his birthday last year. When his mummy called me this morning to order a chocolate cake, she asked if I could draw a badminton racket & a shuttle cock on it ? My reply to her was I'll try my best. Looked up the net for images that I could refer to, found one simple one finally as time is running short. The order came in at 9am & she wanted the cake by 5pm. At 1pm, the cake has been iced, wordings & the little design done. Back to the fridge the cake went, to firm up & off to a party at 5pm.

Bluberry Chiffon Cake

After drooling at the yummy bakes Mandy had at her blog, I decided I should bake ourselves a blueberry cake too ! Since I still have frozen blueberries in my freezer, I settled on a cake that's on the lighter side, a blueberry chiffon cake.
This chiffon cake recipe is adapted from a Taiwanese blog.

Ingredients :

95g Flour
8g Corn flour
5g Baking powder
20g Sugar
60g Olive oil
60g Milk
5 Egg yolks

5 Egg whites
3g Cream of tartar
95g Sugar

In a large bowl, combine flour, corn flour, baking powder & sugar, add olive oil, milk & egg yolks, stir until smooth, set aside.

In a clean dry bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form, add sugar gradually, continue to beat until firm & glossy.

Fold half of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it. Fold the egg yolk mixture back into the egg white mixture until well combined. Pour batter into a 22cm tube pan, bake at preheated oven of 160C, bake for 40-45 mins. Once cake is done, invert the pan & let the cake cool down. Run a spatula through the side of the pan to loosen the cake.

* I found the taste of olive oil too strong, so I changed it to canola oil & added 1 tsp of vanilla essence. I've added 100g of blueberries into the batter, fold them in before baking.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Passion Fruit Sorbet

Project No. 3

The last 2 cups of passion fruit pulp have been in my fridge for a week now, the girls have been asking me to make ice-cream out of it but I think sorbet is a better choice, fat free ! I finally have time to make it yesterday afternoon, went through my cookbooks, there are so many passion fruit sorbet recipes, decided on this easy one from Hamlyn Complete Cook.

Ingredients :

10 passion fruit
1 Tbsp lime juice
100 ml water
1 egg white
1 tsp sugar

Sorbet syrup :
300g sugar

First prepare the sorbet syrup. Place the sugar & water in a pan, heat to boiling point, stirring continuously to dissolve the sugar, allow to cool.

Scoop the flesh out of the passion fruit. Liquidize with the lime juice & water for about 10 secs. Strain the juice into a freezer container & combine with the sorbet syrup. Place the container in the freezer & freeze for 2-3 hrs or until almost solid.

Whisk the egg white & sugar until stiff. remove the sorbet from the freezer & beat in the egg white. Return the sorbet to the freezer for 1-2 hrs or until set. If the sorbet has been in the freezer for 24 hrs or longer, transfer to the refrigerator 15 mins before serving to soften slightly.

* I've used 2 cups of pulp, that should be more than 10 passion fruit. I've omitted the lime juice as the passion fruit is sourish enough. After straining the juice, I added the remaining pulp & some of the seeds back to the juice, together with the sorbet syrup & I've reduced the sugar to 250g. After freezing it over night, my girls & I had the sorbet in the late afternoon, it was very refreshing !

Pumpkin Bread

This pumpkin bread is so tender & moist, full of all the goodness that pumpkin has to offer. I like baking with pumpkin, the natural colour of the pumpkin is so pretty & bright.
This recipe is adapted from Celebrity Chefs' Cookbooks, Don Yong's Bread Winners. I remembered buying this book few years ago as a Christmas present for myself because it was then that I discovered that I can bake !!

Ingredients :

500g Bread flour
20g Milk powder
8g Bread improver *
14g Instant dry yeast
110g Sugar
8g Salt
2g Mixed spice
450g Pumpkin paste
100g Eggs (without shell)
70g Cold water
100g Shortening *

With an electric mixer on dough hook & low speed, blend the dry ingredients together for 1 min. Add 150g of pumpkin paste, eggs & water, mix on low speed for another min. Add shortening & mix on medium speed until dough is fully developed. Let rise for 1 hour until the dough doubles in bulk.

Punch dough down, divide the dough into 3 pcs, each 350g & mould round, leave for 10 mins. With a rolling pin, flatten each dough into a sheet 30-cm wide, spread remaining pumpkin paste onto each dough equally, roll the dough up like a swiss roll. Stretch the roll slightly & fold in half, give the roll 2 or 3 twists & place into a tin.

Prove the dough in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubles in bulk. Bake in preheated oven on 200C for 25 mins.

* As usual, I left out the bread improver & changed the shortening to butter. I halved the recipe to make only one loaf. The pumpkin paste can be easily prepared by steaming pumkin & mashed with some sugar until it forms a paste that is easy to spread (add sugar according to your taste).
I find the temperature of 200C too high, I've reduced it to 190C & the bread is done in 20 mins.

Vanilla Cupcakes

I have been trying few cupcakes recipes for vanilla cupcakes, which I'm going to bake for a wedding next month. Finally, after few attempts, I got the perfect cupcake which rises beautifully to a nice height, good texture, moist, not super oily & sweet !
I still need to practice on my piping skills though......

Squid With XO Sauce

We had dinner @ Fish & Co last Saturday, the rubbery fried calamari rings that I sent back to the kitchen left me thinking about squid these few days. Of all the seafood, squid is my favourite, I could just have a plate of fried squid, nothing else, for a meal, I'll be so satisfied !
Since I couldn't get it off my mind, I ended up with 6 squids this morning, they must be about 1kg. Frankly, I hate cleaning squids, which could be quite messy & leave my fingers stinking !
I make diagonal cuts on the squids so they will curl up after cooking.

Ingredients :

6 squids, cleaned & cut into pcs
4 Tbsp XO sauce
3 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs spring onions, chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soya sauce
1 Tbsp Hua Tiao wine

Season the squids with 1/2 tsp salt, dash of pepper & 1 Tbsp corn flour, set aside for 10 mins. Bring a pot of water to boil, add squid quickly, blanch & drain. I found that seasoning the squid with cornflour leave the squid soft even after cooking, not rubbery & they won't be soggy after frying, I remembered watching my mum frying squids, there's always liquid coming out from the squids even after cooking. But after the seasoning & blanching, there's none !

Heat some oil in a wok, add XO sauce & garlic, cook till garlic is browned & aromatic, return squid to pan, add soya sauce, sugar & the Hua Tiao wine, stir to combine, add spring onions & turn off heat.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Honey Spare Ribs

Saw a slab of rather lean & small spareribs while doing marketing last Saturday, so I bought half slab, which came up to 1/2kg, just nice for 4 of us for a meal with rice.
I usually buy the whole slab & roast it "Tony Romas' style but not this time, not in the mood of roasting today......
Found a honey spare ribs recipe tucked in my of my older recipe books which is handwritten, I don't remember where I copied it from, since the recipe don't require much preparation, I cooked them for dinner today.

Ingredients :

1 kg spare ribs
8 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp dark soya sauce
3 cups chicken stock

3 Tbsp honey

Blanch spare ribs with boiling water, place them into a pot with the crushed garlic, dark soya sauce, & chicken stock, bring to boil , turn down heat & simmer for 45 mins or until tender.

Remove ribs from the pot, pat dry with a kitchen towel, set the gravy aside.
Deep fry ribs till golden brown, drain.

Return the gravy to a pan, add the honey & bring to boil until slightly thickened. Add the ribs & coat evenly with the sauce.

*I halved the recipe since I've got only 1/2 kg of spare ribs, this is enough for 1 meal, 2 adults 2 kids. I didn't reduce the garlic, used 8 cloves too & I also added some minced ginger !

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cabbage Rice

My siblings & I grew up with this rice, I think it is common in Hokkien family. My mum used to cook it with mustard green, which I hate, so I've changed it to cabbage. I don't eat most vegies when I was young, especially snap peas, long beans, bitter gourd, until today. I eat all kinds of leafy greens, broccoli being my favourite. Sad to say, I wouldn't cook what I don't eat, I know it's unfair to hubby & the girls the smell & taste of those beans & gourds really scare me !

My mum cured her own pork belly, rubbing it with lots of salt & deep frying it. I managed to smuggle some back to KK in May & store them in my deep freezer. As we don't take fatty meat, I'll trim all fats off the cured pork belly before I cook with them.

The ingredients for cabbage rice :

3 1/2 cups jasmine rice

2 1/2 cups hot chicken stock

8 shallots, sliced

5 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp dried shrimp, washed & minced

4 pcs each of dried scallops & dried shitake mushroom, rinsed, cover with enough water in a bowl, steam it with a dash of Hua Tiao wine till soft, tear the scallops into thin strands & slice the mushrooms

1 small head cabbage, washed & torn into pcs

1 pc Jin Hua ham & cured belly pork, cut into small pcs (omit the Jin Hua ham if you don't have it & replace the cured belly pork with roasted pork)

Heat some oil in a wok till hot, add shallots, garlic & minced dried shrimp, cook till lighly brown & aromatic, add Jin Hua ham & cured belly pork (if using), cook for another 5 mins. Add rice, stir to combine, add the dried scallop & mushroom mixture & 1 cup chicken stock, mix throughly, cover the wok & let the rice cook over low heat. About 10 mins later, uncover the wok, stir through, add another cup of chicken stock, cover & let cook another 10 mins, after that add the cabbage & remaining stock, continue to cook for about 5 mins, season to taste.

* More or less stock can be added to adjust the doneness of the rice. I only added a dash of soya sauce & a little sugar, no other seasoning is required. The flavour from the ham, cured belly pork, dried scallop & mushroom are enough to season the rice. This portion of cabbage rice is enough for our dinner & lunch tomorrow.


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