3 Dec 2013

spiced rice

I went to the Night Noodle Market with a friend some time last week. We arrived early and decided to leave just as waves of hungry people were coming in. To us, the event was mediocre at best as we imagined it to be more similar to the night markets we've been to in Asia. I had a look at the menu before going and was only interested in trying either the Nepalese biriyani or Chin Chin's massaman curry. I chose the biriyani in the end and was glad it wasn't spicy, although it might have benefited from a bit of heat.

I kept thinking about the biriyani at home and finally decided to make it, learning so much in the process. For one, my stove cooked rice did not turn out like a gloppy mess (oh the nightmares when it turned out like goop during high school) and that the rice has to be stirred through a curry-like sauce. Last but not least, it's spelt as biriyani/briyani and not briyani as I previously had thought. Pappadams on the other hand...

The dish was pretty simple to make and like all matters of curry, you can be sure the leftovers are going to taste even better.

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Vegan biriyani     serves 2
adapted from BBC Good Food

100g basmati rice
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
50g red lentils, washed and drained
300ml cold water
handful or two of string/snap beans, trimmed and halved
handful of frozen peas
sea salt, white pepper, to season
chopped coriander, mango chutney, garlic pappadams, to serve

For the paste
2 small onions, peeled and roughly chopped
thumb of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
glug of cooking oil

Cook the rice according to packet instructions, adding turmeric into the water.

To make the paste, blitz all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Add the paste in a heated saucepan and stir frequently until fragrant. Add the red lentils and water, bring to boil then reduce heat to medium. Cook until lentils are tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. Add the beans and peas in the final two minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in a small handful of finely chopped coriander.

Mix the rice through the sauce and serve with coriander, mango chutney and pappadams.

29 Nov 2013

power of the yeast

I finished my last exam for my BA just last week and I'm currently waiting for the uni system to update my status so I can enrol into my Masters. But for now, I get to enjoy the rest of November and the entire summer off. So far I have been successful in keeping myself relatively busy by swimming - something I randomly decided to pick up again during my exam period after a 6-7 year break. Other days I spend time doing things I normally do.

To make up for not using the bread machine during the exam period, I've used it thrice this week alone. Last night I adapted my current waffle recipe (meringue method) into a yeast waffle. By using bread flour and yeast, the waffle was better in terms of flavour and texture. These taste best freshly made, but if you have leftovers, just nuke them in the microwave or toast them in the oven.

★ ★ ★

yeasted pandan & coconut waffles      makes 6 using the breville waffles creations appliance

200ml coconut milk (the full fat variety please), warmed
a few drops of pandan paste
50g unsalted butter, melted
100g caster sugar
large pinch of sea salt
1 large egg, beaten
handful of desiccated/shredded coconut (optional)
200g bread flour
1/2 tsp bread improver (optional)
2 tsp dry active yeast

If you have a bread machine, just add the ingredients in the order according to manufacturer's directions. Set the machine to the 'dough' function (30 minutes kneading, 60 minutes proving). Cook waffle mixture on a hot waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions. I like to use the 'darker' setting.

If you don't have a bread machine, just combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Make a 'well' in the dry ingredient bowl and stir in the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover and leave in a warm place until mixture doubles in size. Cook as above.

30 Oct 2013

cheese & tomato melt

Recently I've been hesitating whether or not to buy a jar of dill pickles. Although I like dill pickles, I'm not sure if I can finish them before they go mouldy. But now I don't have to buy them at all. By chance I have found myself a sandwich combination that tastes very similar to a dill pickle! Best sandwich combination ever!

I've had this for two days in a row and I think I'll have this for lunch again tomorrow. All you have to do is assemble (reconstituted garlic,) sliced medley tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, dill and melted tasty cheese on a toasted butter slice of bread.

16 Oct 2013

chocolate raspberry

Multi-component desserts is a lot of work, but it is also very fun since there are many basic techniques required in the recipe itself. I was scrolling through cakechef the other day and decided that Koji Yamamoto's IMPEC would be easy to make. Initially, I was going to make half and finish the rest the next day, but I finished the first bit earlier than expected so I made the rest. Taste wise, I liked the chocolate almond sponge and the chocolate creme, but I'm unsure of the vanilla diplomat cream. My mum thought the raspberry gelee was too sour and ruined the cake, but it was kind of bland and lacking in flavour to me. I would have liked more raspberry kick.

Things I did different was straining out the seeds for the raspberry gelee (maybe that's why the gelee was bland?), making a chocolate ganache glaze instead of the chocolate glacage and garnished with cocoa nibs instead. It was fun experience though and I took lots away from it. I need more work with the glazing though.

I scaled down certain parts of the recipe (half portion of the: gelee framboise pepin, diplomate vanille, creme chocolat; 1:1 ratio of sugar and water for the syrup) and made a 18x18cm cake. 

Components in composition order:
Chocolate almond sponge, sugar syrup, raspberry gelee, vanilla diplomat cream, chocolate almond sponge, sugar syrup, chocolate cream (mousse?), dark chocolate ganache, cocoa nibs (garnish).

Edit: It tastes so much better when left in the fridge for 24 hours!

12 Oct 2013

dreaming of butter

Feels like forever since I've baked a cake, but it was just last week since I baked an assam tea chiffon cake. But to justify, it's been ages since I've used an entire block of butter for something. These days it's bread and some other things. When dreaming of having slices of butter cake during class, it was time to whip out the butter again.

I've been receiving some homegrown lemons from my uncle's aunt's tree these days. Not to waste the peel and juice, I've been making lemon curd and lemon curd muffins for tea. This time some lemon drizzle cake, adapted from my auntie's butter cake. Instead of adding more sugar into the syrup, I added some homemade citrus cordial we bought from the Morrisons of Glenrowan during summer. Moist, buttery and full of lemon. Mmm.

Oh ya, we got a labrador puppy. His name is Bobby and you can read the antics he gets up to over here. He nips at my shoes and pajamas too much.

28 Sep 2013

cold pizza

The last pizza night we had was when we just landed back in Melbourne. The pizza was cold since dad ordered take out for dinner, but after a few minutes in the oven it became one of the best meals ever...at 1am.

These McCain pizza pockets used to be one of my favourite foods (apart from Macca's breakfast) on my way to Chinese school on a cold Saturday morning. I'd sleep in and by the time I finished getting ready, there was only enough time to get to school. Bag in one hand and breakfast slipped into a sandwich bag in the other before rushing out the door. Just so you know, these calzones are just as good cold and sandwich bag friendly.

I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #35: A Palate for Pizza hosted by Joey of Little Accidents in the Kitchen. (Thank you for taking the time to host!)

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Calzones     makes 10

I made two versions; one with chilli salami, boiled sliced potatoes, halved roma tomatoes, pan fried chorizo, sauteed sliced onions, shredded ham and mozzarella cheese. The other one was classic Hawaiian with spicy salami, with a few sans pineapple and salami for the sister.

1 batch herbed pizza dough (recipe below)
1 batch pizza sauce (recipe below)
assorted fillings*
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. 

Divide the pizza dough into 10 equal sized pieces. Roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface keeping the shape roughly circular. Spread with a few heaped spoonfuls of pizza sauce, leaving a 1cm border and pile on the assorted fillings in the centre, finishing with the cheese. To make the calzone, bring the sides to the center, pinch together and fold over. Twist the ends together and tuck inwards. 

Transfer calzones onto a non-stick greaseproof paper lined tray and brush with beaten egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

*For 10 calzones, I used roughly 350g shredded ham, 150g chilli salami, 100g shaved ham, 1 Spanish chorizo, 1 medium onion, 4 baby potatoes, a handful of roma tomatoes, a few slices of canned pineapple and a mountain of grated mozzarella. 

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Herbed pizza dough    
adapted from the Kambrook Size Select Bread Maker booklet 

375ml warm water
60ml cooking oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp mustard powder
600g bread flour
2 tsp dried yeast

Put the ingredients into your bread machine according to machine instructions and select the pizza function (30 minutes kneading, 1 hr proving). If you are making it by hand, combine the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and make a well. Combine the water and oil together, pour into the flour and mix to form a dough. Knead until it is smooth and springy. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and wrap with a piece of lightly oiled cling wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size.

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Pizza sauce     makes around 500g

400g tinned Italian diced tomatoes
45g tomato paste
pineapple juice or brown sugar, as required
salt and white pepper, as required
dried Italian herbs and thyme, as required

Bring the diced tomatoes to a boil and stir in the tomato paste. Season with pineapple juice or sugar, salt, white pepper and dried herbs. Leave to cool.

25 Sep 2013

spring harvest

Recently my sister has been very busy at school cultivating organic vegetables. So far she's brought home a variety of vegetables, herbs and conversation about her hard work. Last week she pulled out a couple of interesting shaped carrots for a carrot cake. Leaves from the carrot tops make really neat garnishes! We also had some broad beans from the school garden as part of our dinner tonight. 

She doesn't grow potatoes though. Ok, she does now apparently. We lugged a 5kg bag of baby potatoes from the market this week and I've been making an adaption of kartoffelsalat (German potato salad) for dinner this week. Something different to the usual roast potatoes. Any ideas for the remaining potatoes? 

♥ ♥ ♥

roast potato salad     serves 4 as a side

I made two versions of this potato salad this week. The first with the traditional components of bacon and onion, the second with some orange sweet potato. I've combined the recipes together, but feel free to adapt to what you have on hand.

15 - 20 baby potatoes
3 orange sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
unsalted butter, as required
glug of Kikkoman soy sauce
aonori or dried parsley, as required 
1/2 a small onion, sliced thinly
2 slices of shortcut bacon, cut into thin strips

Wash the baby potatoes and shave off the eyes/sprouts if there is any. Bring to the boil with the sweet potatoes and boil until a chopstick can go through*. Drain and leave to dry.

Once ready to cook, transfer baby potatoes to a baking tray and put some thinly sliced butter on top. Bake at 200 degrees celcius, turning every 15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Make a cut in the potatoes and split open. Add the sweet potatoes. Drizzle soy sauce over the top and leave in the oven for 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, saute onion and bacon with some cooking oil until browned. Sprinkle potatoes with a few good pinches of aonori/dried parsley and scatter the sauteed onion and bacon on top.

*If you are using sweet potato, they should be soft before draining.

17 Sep 2013

oodles of noodles

Although I'm not a big fan of noodles, I find myself making some once in a while. Ginger pork with soba and dashi for lunch last week, and thinly sliced pieces of simmered beef gravy in my dad's aged masterstock for dinner tonight. My dad reckons the beef noodles need a few pieces of zha choi in them. Yeah, it needs a bit of a kick. 

There seems to be a little debate about how long this batch of masterstock has been sitting in our fridge; from several months (dad) to a couple of years (mum). I just know it's been in there for a pretty long time and it's finally reduced itself down to two litres. Hopefully, I'll see what goes in it when my dad makes the next batch. Aside from simmering various meats in it, that's where all the flavours begin, my mum once said. 

Here's my previous oodles of noodles post. Maybe I'll collect all of them into a collage one day.

14 Sep 2013

dad's dumplings

My mum started making dumplings at home after we had some mediocre ones outside. She's not very good at pleating them and just folds them in half with a dab of water, making half moons. My dad said they looked ugly so he took over, pleating them one by one...until he said we ate them too fast and started making half moons himself. Just last week he started pleating them again. Feasted on them like kings we did.  

I was seasoning the filling with my dad and there is no recipe. Everything is estimated, eyeballed and judged by smell and touch. Bits of salt and pepper here and there and a glug to sesame oil to finish. We boiled them first then pan fried both sides for a crisp texture. Next time he said I should help pleat them, but I don't think I'll have the patience or dedication (he pleated around 150+ in one sitting) to master the technique, unless he's ok with half moons!

We're having them for lunch today! Yum!

12 Sep 2013


This new season marked the coming and going of elections, deceiving weather and the continuation of sniffles for some. The vegetable selection has also increased and I've been waiting for the arrival of fresh broad beans at my local green grocers. I've only eaten them in dried form as a snack, so it was interesting to see how the fresh ones would taste like. 

I thought I'd get a lot of beans, but after podding, I ended up with a very sad amount, so I just threw them in some pasta I made for dinner. The origins of the recipe comes from The Silver Spoon: Pasta (the only pasta cookbook you'll ever need) which I made for dinner one night a few weeks ago. Sautéed sliced onion, bacon, peas and zucchini flavoured with parmesan, black pepper, thyme, oregano and my dad's fried garlic oil. The recipe is highly adjustable to whatever ingredients you have in the fridge.

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spring vegetable pasta with garlic chicken

Trim fat off chicken thigh fillets, cut into two if necessary and make slits in the thicker part of the meat. Season with salt, white pepper and a lot of garlic powder. (Might use some onion powder next time.) Leave in the fridge until needed, but bring to room temperature before pan frying.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, sauté thinly sliced zucchini, asparagus, broad beans, peas and edamame*. Season with salt, black pepper and chicken bouillon powder. Drain pasta and mix in a few tablespoons of fried garlic oil and some salt and black pepper. Add sautéed vegetables and baby spinach and toss until well combined. Season again if necessary. Pan fry the marinated chicken, slice and serve on top of the pasta.

*Blanch cut asparagus, double podded cooked broad beans, blanched peas and podded cooked edamame (can be found in the frozen section of good Asian grocers).

9 Sep 2013

sausage buns

This bread baking thing is turning out to be better than I had expected. Upon request, I tried making those sausage buns that you can see through the glass windows of a typical Asian bakery. Sometimes it's covered with some cheese (and dried parsley). Other times, they are just plain with a golden shiny top. 

Spiraling the dough is a little tricky at first, but the work process gets somewhat smoother towards the end. These were some of the first ones I made, from right to left. It's still not perfect, but it's getting there!

Now that I can make them at home, no bakery is going to get my pocket change on these again.

8 Sep 2013

things in the fridge

This week I used a new ingredient - a small bottle of balsamic vinegar of modena. I found out later that it was an imitation product... I ended up using it a total of three times before stashing it in the pantry. A dash or two in the sweet and sour sauce and in the pork ragù I was making and coated some sliced strawberries with it. It made my sauce tart, heightened the flavour of the ragù and brought the dull strawberries to life. If the imitation works this well, the real thing must be great!

I thought ragù was something very fancy but it's actually a no brainer. Really. So don't let the long list of ingredients deter you from making it. In fact, most of the ingredients listed below are staples in my regular pasta sauce. You just have to simmer it for a longer period of time and you don't even have to tend to it. The only thing different is that you have to let it rest overnight to allow it to develop flavours. Dinner the next day will be ready in a pinch.

I scooped some sauce out as I thought I had to much. A future pasta sauce or lasagna in the makes possibly, but it rejoined the others in the end. An extra bowl and spoon to wash, but all I had to do that night was cook the pasta and reheat the sauce.

With the leftovers, I ended up making a baked pasta which was equally delicious. Just heat it up in a microwave, stir in some baby spinach, transfer into an oven-safe dish, pile on the cheese (parmsesan and mozzarella) and bake at 175C until golden brown.

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pork ragù     serves 8
adapted from the SBS Feast magazine issue 24

1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and finely diced
1 solo garlic, finely diced
2 heaped Tb tomato paste
800g pork gravy
few sprigs each of rosemary and thyme
3 dried bay leaves
pinch of grated nutmeg
250ml white wine* (I used a French one I had in the fridge)
800g canned diced Italian tomatoes
chicken stock, enough to cover the pork
dash of balsamic vinegar of modena
500g dried rigatoni
sea salt, black/white pepper, sugar, to taste
cooking oil, as required
finely grated parmesan, to serve

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan and saute onion, carrot, celery, garlic until onion softens. When done, stir in the tomato paste, turn off the heat and leave aside.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large cast iron casserole pot and wipe the pork gravy dry with a paper towel (do it, or else oil will splatter everywhere). Season pork with salt and pepper, add to the pot and brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium, add the sauteed vegetables, herbs, nutmeg, wine, tomatoes and chicken stock (enough to cover pork) and bring to a simmer. Skim off the scum if it bothers you. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours** or until meat is tender and falling apart. Taste and season. Remove lid and allow to cool completely in the cooking liquid. Leave the pot with the lid ajar on the stove top (if weather permits) or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove pork from the pot, fish out the herb stems and bay leaves, reserving the cooking liquid. Using your hands, shred the meat and place it back into the pot. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and check if you need to season the tomato mixture again. Bring it to a simmer over low heat and cook until meat has heated through, approximately 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook rigatoni according to packet instructions. Drain well then add into the pot, stirring and tossing to combine.

Serve with finely grated parmesan cheese.

*Substitute with red wine or extra stock if you like
*I had 2 pieces of pork gravy, around 400g each. I felt that 1 1/2 hours was sufficient time to achieve the meat's tenderness. The meat was "peelable" with steel tongs. The original recipe uses a 2.2kg piece of pork shoulder on the bone and cooked it for 2 1/2 hours. Adapt your cooking times depending on cut/size of meat.

4 Sep 2013

red beans

I saw the ads for Samsung Malaysia's mini-series, Wind Chimes in a Bakery before I left, but totally forgot all about it when I returned home. Well, until I saw Swee San's post the other night. But instead of reminding me to watch the series, I went to bake the red bean buns instead - which is probably much more important (haha). The smell of bread out of the oven is amazing and this is the reason why I try to bake bread at least once a week now.

I adapted the sweet tosca bread recipe from the Nordic Bakery Cookbook again since I got a delicious soft loaf from it last time. This time I made sure not to burn the top! Once I got the bread machine going, I tended to the pot of simmering red beans which is somewhat low maintenance. After the first prove, I divided the dough into 20 (un)equal pieces and scooped out the same quantity of red bean paste; 25 grams per bun. Shaping, wrapping, flattening and cutting the buns and into the oven at 28C for the second prove for 1 hour, whilst glazing with beaten egg 3 times at 20 minute intervals. With the last glaze, a sprinkle of black sesame seeds in the center before baking at 175C fan forced until golden brown all over. Yum.

* * *

red bean paste     makes approximately 800g 
adapted from my old recipe which I adapted from Cooking Guide DS

250g red beans
150g raw sugar*
cold water, as required

Wash the red beans and soak in a bowl of cold water overnight. Drain beans and wash again.

Place beans in a small saucepan and top up with water. Bring to the boil and drain. Top up with more cold water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and let it boil/simmer for approximately 15 minutes. If the scum disturbs you, skim it off. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 15 minutes. The water should be just below the top layer of beans. Add the sugar and stir. The water should just be covering the top layer of beans and should be thickened. Simmer for a few minutes more, stirring consistently to avoid burning. 

Transfer mixture into a thermomix/food processor and process until smooth. Transfer into a bowl, allow to cool slightly and cling wrap, ensuring it touches the red bean paste to avoid it forming a dry layer. When completely cool, refrigerate or freeze for future use.

*Thinking it would be sufficient, I actually put 50g of sugar into the pot first. But after I processed it, it was lacking in flavour so I gradually added 100g more whilst it was still hot. The sugar amount, more or less is a personal taste. The original recipe uses a 1:1 ratio of beans and sugar. 

31 Aug 2013

poor cutlet

Tonkatsu was one of the very first dishes I made at home that everyone thought was safe to eat. It was around sometime during middle school when I first started taking food tech classes at school. I saw the recipe in Cooking Guide DS and thought it was very exciting. At first, I only tenderised, marinated and breaded the cutlets and made my parents do the dirty work fry it, but a couple of years later I had more guts to do it myself. The only thing that scares me about deep frying now is when the oil gets so hot it makes a loud cracking noise, like it's building momentum to explode!

Usually when it's my turn to make dinner, I just make a variation of these chicken burgers because everyone likes them. On days when I'm lazy, I just throw in two strings of Chinese sausages and eggs into the rice cooker and let it work it's magic. 

Just a few nights ago, I decided to revisit tonkatsu - only with a slightly different technique I picked up in a manga I reread during the summer break. 

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Triple-breaded layered tonkatsu     makes 4-5 cutlets
I wish I created it first, but I stole the idea from Kawachi’s “poor cutlet sandwich” as seen in the manga, Yakitate!! Japan. Read it, it's good!

By layering the sliced pork, it creates a crispy, soft cutlet without the need of scoring the meat and butchering it with a meat tenderiser. Use a fattier cut of pork, like pork chops for a juicier fried cutlet.

500g lean pork loin, half-frozen
sea salt and white pepper, to season
plain flour, as required
3 large eggs, beaten
panko breadcrumbs, as required
oil, for frying

Put two sheets of absorbent paper on a baking tray.

Slice the pork thinly whilst it is still in its half-frozen state. Place three to four slices of pork next to each other, slightly overlapping each other on a plate. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Repeat the layering and seasoning two or three more times to make one layered cutlet. Press and shape the cutlet into a round shape. Repeat with the remaining pork slices to make four or five cutlets. Transfer onto the baking tray, place two more sheets of absorbent paper on top, cling wrap and refrigerate until required. Just make sure the pork is fully defrosted before using (I left it in the fridge for one day).

When ready to cook, bring the pork cutlets to room temperature. Prepare a plate with some flour, a shallow plate of beaten eggs*, a plate of panko and a plate to place the prepared cutlets. Coat both sides of the cutlet with flour, dust off the extra and flour the rest of the cutlets. Coat both sides of the cutlet with egg and then with panko three times each. If you're pressed for time, a double breaded coating is fine.

Heat up the oil and deep fry each cutlet until golden brown on both sides**. Drain the excess oil off the cutlets.

Allow to cool briefly, slice it thickly and serve with shredded raw cabbage/lettuce, lemon slices, pickles and tonkatsu sauce***.

*I prefer to beat one egg in a shallow plate at a time.
** I also whacked it in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 150C to ensure the insides were cooked. Just incase the cutlet was too thick.  
***I made my own sauce consisting of ketchup, worcestershire sauce, mirin and a bit of water. There's a good recipe over here.

27 Aug 2013

trying new things

Every week I find myself rearranging the books on the bookshelf to fit in more than it can. A very recent addition is the Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink. I was originally drawn in by the simple design and photography, but after baking from it twice, with plans for more, it's becoming a new favourite. Someday, I'd like to sit in the Scandinavian-style cafe with a cinnamon bun looking out at the streets of London.

I wanted to make the parsnip and sesame flatbreads but quark isn't readily available here. Miisa Mink suggests to substitute it with thick Greek yogurt but I wanted to try make my own version by straining some natural yogurt in muslin overnight. I'm not sure if the texture and taste compares, but it gave me a really thick, less tart yogurt with some parts near the edges resembling cream cheese. The flatbreads were just as delicious (and addictive). 

I haven't decided what to do with the whey yet, but I'll probably make Calpis or bake bread with it.
With bread, needs soup. I tried a new pumpkin soup recipe out of Jason Atherton's Gourmet Food on a Budget. The method is very different to the usual one I make. The pumpkin is roasted in a foil parcel, pureed, then cooked over a low heat until almost dry before mixing it in with stock, grated parmesan cheese and cream. It resulted in a velvety soup with a cheesy tang. I didn't make the lime chantilly but I think it would be pretty amazing and innovative.

Last thing I did today was deep fry some choux pastry to make chouxros (please ignore my crappy pun). The chouxros weren't crispy as I anticipated but was light and fluffy. It doesn't tastes like much on its own, but with the accompanying salted caramel and dark chocolate ganache...it tasted SO UNHEALTHY I probably won't make/eat it again. It also becomes quite oily when cooled, so I ended up dumping half the batch after dinner... At least I can enjoy the salted caramel with something else...!

I'm submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #34: Choux Party (August 2013) hosted by Jasline of Foodie Baker(Thank you for taking the time to host!)

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chouxros     makes around 20 x 4-5cm long pieces

Just a note, these taste very unhealthy...

1 batch of choux pastry made with bread flour instead of plain flour
oil, for deep frying
salted caramel (see below) and dark chocolate ganache, to serve

Once you have made the choux pastry, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 9mm star piping tip and leave to rest for 30 minutes or more. 

When ready to fry, heat a small saucepan, half-filled with oil. When the oil is hot, pipe 2-3 pieces of 4-5cm choux pastry into the oil. You may need to use a scissors to cut/separate the dough. Deep fry, turning frequently until golden brown. Drain off excess oil.

Serve immediately with salted caramel and warm chocolate ganache.

Note: You may want to flavour your choux pastry with vanilla bean paste/extract, orange blosson water etc. before frying and roll the chouxros in cinnamon sugar or caster sugar after draining the excess oil. Up to you! 

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salted caramel     makes around 150-200ml

Add the salt according to your taste. I gifted Mrs Roddick a bottle of fleur de sel recently and she has told me salted caramel tastes better with it. But she said to add a little at a time as it is saltier than sea salt.

50g caster sugar
150ml thickened cream
sea salt, to taste

Put the caster sugar in a shallow frying pan and shake it gently so the sugar is distributed evenly. Dissolve over a low heat, shaking the pan frequently. Gently stir the sugar into the dissolved parts and continue to stir until it becomes a golden amber/whisky colour. Add the cream (be careful of splatter). Stir until the hardened caramel dissolves into the cream*. Turn off the heat, add salt, stirring to taste. Leave to cool before storing in a glass jar. The sauce with thicken slightly upon cooling.

*I like to reduce/thicken the sauce by simmering it for a few minutes. It will become like a spreadable paste.

20 Aug 2013

falafel invasion

Some time ago, I kept seeing falafels everywhere. Sealed in vacuum bags at the supermarket, freshly fried in food courts and on the menu of a certain takeaway shop. Heck, my local Coles superstore now sells them ready made for five dollars a box opposite the cheese section. Perhaps it is a sign telling me to make them?

I adapted the recipe mainly from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsal's column in The Guardian, but took ideas from SBS Food and The Shiksa as well. I used reconstituted dried chickpeas, grated pumpkin, lots of coriander (which explains why it takes on a green hue), onion, garlic, dried parsley and some homemade breadcrumbs. I'm not big on cumin and don't have the usual falafel spices, so I just substituted it with sea salt and black pepper. Also, instead of deep frying or baking them, I pan fried them with some oil and ate them with some homemade flatbread (recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsal's River Cottage Everyday), pickled carrots, sliced cucumbers and mayonnaise. 

Mayonnaise?! Well, that's what I had in the fridge.

14 Aug 2013

just biscuits

Lately, we've been getting some really crazy weather here in Melbourne. It may look like a nice day in the morning, but the wind and rain can upturn umbrellas in the afternoon!

Just as I was having a McVitie's craving last night, I saw Victoria Bakes' post on digestive biscuits! I haven't had McVitie's for a while, so the flavour and texture is really faint in my mind. These are a bit crumbly and have a toasty oat flavour from having a few minutes in the oven before using. Instead of grinding the oats separately, I just put it in with the other ingredients. I think these taste better than the King Arthur Flour digestives I made a while back.

If you're sick of eating oats everyday or don't know what to do with the leftover wholemeal flour, make these biscuits...now! You can eat it just like it is, dipped in some melted chocolate or jam. I used a portion to make mini baked raspberry and lemon cheesecakes. Recipe adapted from Bill Granger.

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homemade digestive biscuits     makes around 25-30 biscuits
adapted from Victoria Bakes: Baking into the Ether

100g rolled oats
100g wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting
100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
50g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt (ground into powder, optional)
40ml milk

Lightly toast the oats in the oven at 150 degrees for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Take out of the oven to cool and increase the temperature to 180 degrees.

Place all ingredients into a food processor bowl except for the milk and pulse until ingredients are crumbled. Add the milk and pulse until mixture comes together.

Lightly flour the bench and gently knead the dough until it forms a ball. Roll into a 3mm thick rectangle, dusting with flour as required. Cut the dough with a floured cutter and transfer onto a greased / lined baking tray.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before storing in an airtight container.

30 Jul 2013

kuching 03

I'm back in Melbourne and on my way to finish the last semester before I graduate! I'm already starting to miss my family in Malaysia but I'm glad to be back at home. 

On our second last day in Kuching, we spent half our time at Bako National Park. Whilst waiting for our vessel to pick us up, I read some stuff on people being attacked/eaten alive by crocodiles and such was so paranoid I would meet the same fate. The awas (danger) sign didn't help. But when I asked the asked the boat guy, he just laughed and said he has never seen them. Ha... 

At the time we arrived, it was low-tide - which meant we had to walk a short distance onto mainland. Take off your shoes and socks and roll your pants up! Don't worry about dirtying your feet, there's a spot where you can wash your feet. Remember to bring a small towel or some tissues too.

We saw a lot of wild boars and monkeys around headquarters, but didn't see any animals on our trail walk. Oh! Except for a venomous (green and slim) viper on one of the bridges! 

We I became mosquito bait for 10-15 minutes whilst we waited for the Bako guide to find a proboscis monkey in the mangrove forest.

We then we trekked and wrestled mangroves up and down to see...

...the monkey's backside!!! heiowgbeiogbqekl

Kudo to my grandma and MC's mom who trekked through with the group even though they weren't wearing runners/hiking shoes. 

Our group took the Telok Paku trail. It was relatively short, estimated to take 1 hour. But once you get in the mood, 1 hour of walking isn't enough. My sister was raring to go for another round, but unfortunately it wasn't included in our itinerary.

We were sweaty from walking, but it's really cool and shady inside the rainforest. I didn't even get bit by mosquitoes inside as well. Our trail ended in a secluded beach which meant we had to take off our shoes and socks again. Wash your feet in the sea before your get on the boat and dry them in the sun.

Our tour guide then took us to fishing village for lunch. The setting reminded us when we were in Johor Bahru a few years ago. Two other tourists that were with us at Bako joined us and it was so random eating with randoms. We had a lot of food as usual, but I thought it was as spectacular as the food we had on the previous days. The yellow wine crab soup was delicious though.

Can't go to a fishing village and not expect to get a whiff of salty fish!

When we returned to the hotel, we had free time so some of us did some exploring. By the time we walked back to the hotel to call the remainder of our group out, all the food outlets in Atap Street (Chinatown) was closed to our horror! Luckily we found a sort-of Westernised cafe near our hotel for dinner.

Ordered the teh C special without knowing what it was. It's just teh tarik with some pandan syrup. It actually tastes quite good, but the teh ais kurang manis gao from the mamak store near grandma's is so much better.

No kolo mee (how could they!), so I got this tomato fried noodle instead. I got to eat kolo mee back in KL, so all good.

My cousin had a soft serve and said it was better than McDonalds!

And that's the end of my Kuching trip! Would I go again? In a heartbeat (if I had the money)! More on my KL adventures another day!