Monday, August 29, 2011

Bake Along #8 - Nectarine Cake with Cinnamon-Nut Topping

This is another recipe taken from the book Cake Keeper by Lauren Chattman. Quite a nice one to add to your collection as the cakes in this book are sort of everyday cakes and simple to make with mostly basic ingredients. This is the 3rd recipe taken from this book for our bake along and i foresee there will be more coming from this book. You can use other stone fruits like peaches, plums or apricots in replacement of nectarines. Let us also see Joyce and Zoe making the same cake at their blogs.

We will be baking Sweet Potato Sandwich Rolls next for our bake along . If you are keen to join,  post it up on the 10th September.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish  Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all Muslim friends, have a wonderful celebration and to all Malaysians,  Happy Merdeka!!

Recipe: ( i made half of this original recipe )
For the cake:
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 medium ripe nectarines, halved, pitted and peeled

For the topping:
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup walnuts or pecan, finely chopped

Make the topping
1.Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Grease the inside of a 10inch round springform pan.
2.Combine the sugar, cinnamon and the nuts in a small bowl. Set aside.

Make the cake
1.Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
2.Combine the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. scarping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
3.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Arrange the nectarines, cut side down, on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the topping. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 mins. Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom to a wire rack. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.
4.Store uneaten cake in cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My 7 Links Challenge

Hi, i've been tagged last week by Jessica from Kitchen BelleiciousMary from Inside a British Mum's Kitchen and Veronica  from Quay Po Cooks to play in the 7 Links Challenge. I've been scratching my head quite a bit to come up with these links for the challenge but it's exciting, looking back at some of the older posts and selecting it, so these are my picks..

1) The most beautiful post : i always love this. Auspicious Fish Nian Gao

2) The most popular post : This Japanese Cream Bread receives the most viewed page as up to date..

3) The most helpful post : Not that it's so helpful but it's so easy to make these konnyaku jellies that i thought wont deter you from making them. Dragonfruit Konnyaku Jelly and Sweet Potatoes Konnyaku Jelly

4) The most controversial post: This is not really a controversial post but i noticed that from the comments i received, quite a number of you are actually shy away from eating these. Braised Hot and Sour Trotters

5) The post that did not get the attention it deserved : This is one of my very old post which i thought would be good to post it again here since Mooncake Festival is just a couple of weeks away. Dont think i'll be posting any mooncakes this time around. Dragonfruit Flaky Mooncake

6) The post that was surprisingly successful : Despite the disasters it happened while baking this cake, it turned out to be such delicious! Chocolate Almond Torte

7) The post that i'm most proud of : Honestly, given another chance to do this, i dont know whether i can still manage it or not! Fresh Berries Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Chocolate Banana Layered Cake

Here, I would like to forward the challenge to the following 5 bloggers, Claire from Caring is not only SharingAlice from My Little Sprouts, Lyndsey from The Tiny SkilletNourhan from Miss Anthropist's Kitchen and Sotong from cooking it my way.  Hey, no hurry in doing this and even if you are not able to take part, it's okay, ya!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Teochew Dish and a Soup- Heritage Food Trail

Gong fu tea
picture credit:chinavista
This post is intended for the submission to the Heritage Food Trail organised by Edith of precious Moments. It is an event to know and understand better the food and cuisine of each dialect group ie Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Kelantanese, etc etc, all of which are unique and distinctive in their own ways. What I'm bringing up here is a Teochew dish and a soup, these were some of the dishes that my grandma used to cook for my grandfather.

Before that, just to talk a little about my grandparents. They were immigrants from China to Malaya in the 1920s and were here to earn a better living. They were from the district of Shantou, also used to be known as Swatow. They were Teochew people, they speak the teochew dialect. Few of my uncles and cousins who stayed with them know how to speak the dialect but not my mum. Neither do I. My grandfather drinks Oolong tea everyday, in Gongfu tea style..with that miniature set of teapot and cups. They eat porridge most of the time, hardly see them eating  rice. As far as i can remember, i always see steamed fish and salted vegetables on the table. After checking with my mum, she told me about these 2 dishes. My mother is not a great cook, she's not really fond of cooking. I think some of the dishes that she learnt from my grandma were probably these two and also Or Nee, a kind of sweet yam dessert.

This bok choy soup tastes a little similar to the 'choi keok' that we chinese normally eat, minus the spiciness. Though it looks like the dried vegetables soup but it's different. It's a little sour in taste and the soup sweetness comes from all the bones that we put in. While my grandma put in all sorts of bones, my mum suggested to put in the roasted pork trotters and some chicken meat for sweetness.According to my mum, this is my grandfather's favourite soup. Though it doesnt really look appealing, it's a very nice and appetising soup. I'm not really sure if this is a Teochew kind of soup but surely comes from a Teochew grandma who cooks Teochew dishes all the time.

Now what you see on the right is a popular kind of teochew dish, you can find this in almost all teochew restaurants or food stalls. It's a kind of braised meat.. pig's cheek and ears to be exact. I know this may sound disgusting and yucky to some of you, well.. if i were not exposed to these kind of food from young, i would probably think like you too. It's normal. My grandpa likes to eat these, one cooked in this way and another one, just boil them till tender and serve with garlic chilli dipping sauce.  It's my first time cooking this, instructions and method come from my mum, no proper measurement.." just taste as you cook along", she told me. Besides this, the teochew people will also like to add in pork belly, tau foo and eggs together with the cheek and ears. Not that i'm also fond of eating this but i think it's nice to show some of the food coming from the Teochew group. If you are keen to cook a dish based on a heritage , do join in the event. Details can be found here.

ingredients for soup

Bak Choi Soup
400gms bak choi ( cut into pieces)
600gm roasted pork trotter, chop into pieces
500 gm chicken meat, cut into pieces
110gms mushroom
3 bulb smoked garlic, flatten
3000ml water
salt to taste.

Put in all the ingredients into a pot, bring it to boil, lower fire and continue to cook for 1.5 hrs.
Note: quite a big pot of soup, can serve 5-6 people. You can easily adjust the amount of ingredients to cook a smaller portion.

Braised Pig's Cheek and Ears
300gm pig's cheek and ears, (cleaned and torched, this can be done by the butcher)
700ml water
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
3 pieces licorice/ 'kam chou'
4 star anise
1/2 clove garlic, flatten

1. Clean the pig's cheek and ears and blanched under boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove and discard water.
2.In a pot, put in water, oyster sauce, light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, licorice, star anise, garlic and pigs cheek and ears and bring to boil. Once boil, lower fire and let simmer for about 1 hour till meat is tender but not too soft and gravy is thicken.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flaky Egg Tarts (酥皮旦挞)

I believe many of us love eating egg tarts. Me a lot.. both flaky and pastry type. Have been wanted to make these flaky types of egg tarts  the longest time but just didnt do it, fearing the rolling and the folding techniques of making the pastry and a little time consuming. I picked up a little courage 2 weeks ago to bake my first batch of flaky egg tarts, they were nice but the pastry were a bit too thick. So i made another batch last week, i think they looked better but still needs a lot of improvement and practice in terms of rolling the pastry and shaping the tarts. Infact to me i think shaping and lining the tarts are quite a bit of challenge to me. I have to make sure that i press a little firm on the bottom part of the tarts so they sit nicely on the tart cases but at the same time ,do not press too hard on the lining and the sides of the tarts otherwise the flaky layers cannot be seen. What you're seeing now is my 2nd batch of egg tarts which i baked last week. This recipe comes from Agnes Chang and the thing i like about this recipe is that it doesnt require us to put the dough in the fridge after each rolling and folding steps, this saves a lot of time and i also find this dough is not difficult to work that we think the butter is going to melt and put it back into the fridge. I'm putting in some photos on folding the dough, just to let you have an idea how does it look like..sorry i'm not good at showing the step by step photos, normally i dont take pictures in the kitchen, fingers messy shooting and working at the same time but i thought this might be a little useful to some of you. I am submitting this to the Aspiring Bakers #10: Easy As Pie ( August 2011) hosted by Janine of Not The Kitchen Sink!

Recipe ( taken from Agnes Chang Dim Sum Series 2 ) makes 25 mini tarts
Water Dough
230 high protein flour, sifted
10gm custard powder, sifted
100 margarine/butter
4 tbsp castor sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
4-5 tbsp water

Oil Dough
150g plain flour, sifted
100gm shortening

240ml boiling water
120gm castor sugar
3 eggs ( size A)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp vinegar ( helps to set the filling)

Filling: Add the castor sugar to the boiling water, stir to dissolve the sugar and leave aside to cool.

Water dough:  mix flour and custard powder together and rub in butter/margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the sugar, mix well and put in the egg and 4 tbsps of water, mix all with hand until it forms into a dough. Knead the dough by hand, will take several minutes to knead until it becomes a smooth dough.( i used food processor to make this dough, add in all the ingredients except egg and water, put on pulse to achieve breadcrumbs alike consistency, add in the egg and water and pulse again until it forms a pliable and smooth dough.). Leave the dough aside or put in the fridge.

Oil dough: Mix the flour and the shortening until it comes together. ( it's a little tough to form into a dough, just keep gathering the flour and rub in shortening till it forms a rough dough ). Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Preparing the pastry
pic 1: water dough ( yellow dough) and oil dough
pic 2: Flatten water dough. Place oil dough in the center of water dough and wrap oil dough in water dough as shown in pic 3.
pic 3: Oil dough wrapped in water dough.
pic 4: Roll the dough flat into a rectangle shape.
pic 5: Fold one end of the dough up to 2/3 of the dough.
pic 6: Fold the other end of the dough ( remaining 1/3 )on top of the folded dough.
pic 7: from the side, the dough will look like this.
pic 8: Turn the dough 90 degree .
pic 9: Flatten the dough once again and roll into a rectangle shape. Repeat these steps ( pic 5- pic8 ) 2 times more.

a) Put the dough in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you can make the fillings. After the sugar solution has cooled down, add in the eggs, vanilla essence and vinegar . Stir to combine well and sieve the fillings. Discard remaining egg whites left on the strainer. Leave it aside.

b) after 30 minutes, take the pastry out from the fridge, if you find it a little hard, you can thaw it for 10 minutes before shaping the tarts. Roll the pastry out to a big dough with a thickness of 0.3cm. Use a round cutter ( slightly bigger than your tart ) to cut the dough out. Place the dough onto the tart case, pressing the bottom and gently pressing the sides of the tart. Repeat until you finish lining all the tarts. Preheat the oven at 200C

c) Pour the filling about 70% full and bake for 25-30 minutes. Pls check the appropriate temp for your oven, it's really hard to advise. I baked mine at 200c for about 25minutes.

For those of you who are interested in flaky egg tarts, you might also like to check out Shirley@kokken 69 her version of flaky egg tarts. She made some couple of weeks back.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rolled Spelt and Peach Crisp

Saw Angie making this crisp few weeks back and knew that i would love it, looking at the ingredients she put in. I was right, the juices from the peaches lend a sweet and warm flavour to this crisp and each bite comes with a soft crunch from the crispy flakes, it's delicious! It's not really sweet, just nice and psychologically, i also think it's quite healthy though you still find a little butter there. Would love to make this again, it's ideal  for breakfast too! You can substitute rolled spelt flakes with rolled oats and spelt flour with wholemeal flour if you  have difficulty getting them from your place.

I used 3 large peaches instead of 6 to fit my baking dish 6.5"x5" and a little less of the rest of the ingredients for fillings and made 3/4 of the original recipe for the topping.

Original Recipe ( taken from Angie's Recipes )
6 large ripe peaches, pitted and cut into chunks
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tbsp wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

80gm rolled spelt flakes
40gm almond slices ( i just throw in a small handful with just what i left )
30gm wholegrain spelt flour
50gm brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
pinch of salt
80gm unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Lightly butter a rectangular dish , about 10"x6"/25cmx15cm. Toss the peaches with lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of wholegrain spelt flour. Spread peaches in the prepared baking dish.
2.Stir together rolled spelt, almond slices, flour, sugar, spices and salt in a bowl and then work in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over fruit.
3.Bake in middle of oven until topping is golden and peaches are tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm, dust with icing sugar if desired.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bake Along # 7 - Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake

A coca cola cake sounds intriguing to me. How's the taste going to be like? Looking at the recipe from  Cake Keeper by Lauren Chattman, it seems like quite an easy recipe to work. In the book she mentioned that if we want a gooey fudgy kind of cake, we can actually bake it for 45 minutes insteado f the recommended time of 55 minutes to 1 hour. I baked it for 55 minutes and the cake was firm. It was dense and moist , a little fudgy here and there, like a brownie but the taste of coke was undetectable here and the chocolate flavour wasnt really that intense. It did taste a little different from the usual chocolate cake but i cant tell if it's coming from the coke. I supposed each cake has its own flavour and characteristics. I also made some cola icing which i found it on the internet, just to complement the cake. My two bake along buddies, Joyce and Zoe are also posting the same cake today, hop over to have a look too.

Recipe ( from Cake Keeper)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar ( i reduced to 1/2 cup)
1 cup packed light brown sugar ( reduced to 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Coca-Cola
1tsp vanilla extract
Icing sugar for dusting( optional)

1.Preheat oven to 350F/177C. Grease the inside of a 9" round springform pan or baking tin.
2.Whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, oil, Coca-Cola and vanilla in another bowl.
3. With a woodern spoon, stir the Coke mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
4.Pour the batter into the prepared pan.Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 55minutes to 1 hour.
5.Set the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a pairing knife around the perimeter of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan sides, releasing the sides. Use a large spatula to slide the cake from the bottom to a wire rack. Let cool completely. Dust heavily with icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

Cola Icing ( taken from here, made1/2 of this recipe )
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup coca cola
3 tbsp cocoa powder
16oz powdered sugar
1 tbsp icing sugar

Directions: Bring first 3 ingredientsto a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat, whisks in sugar and vanilla.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Loh Mai Chee / Glutinous Rice Balls ( 糯米糍)

These are mostly known as loh mai chee in cantonese, just call them loh mai chee here. When i was younger, i always mixed up these loh mai chee with  muah chee. They are very much alike except the former is stuffed with grounded peanut fillings where muah chee is coated with grounded peanuts instead. Muah chee may be a little softer in texture i think.

Making loh mai chee is not difficult at all, the only thing that takes a little effort to do is frying the peanuts. Besides the soft and chewy texture that we are looking for in a loh mai chee, it must also come with a fragrant peanut filling. I would suggest  frying the peanuts ourselves if can, i know sometimes it could be a hassle to fry the peanuts , if you know you can get very good ones from the stores, then just use them. To fry the peanuts, we dont need oil, just dry fry them till they turn brown and fragrant. I did 200gms peanuts for that and dry fried them in batches. The dough is also quite easy to handle , sticky but not as sticky as you thought would be a mess.

Recipe ( from an old feminine magazine)

250gm glutinuous rice flour
30gm sugar
20gm shortening
300ml water

some glutinuous rice flour for dusting

200gm peanuts( toasted and grounded) + 4 tbsps sugar ( some leftover fillings)

1.Mix glutinuous rice flour with sugar. Make a well in the center, pour in water and stir well .
2. Add in shortening and stir to mix . Pour the glutinuous batter into a tray and steam in high heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool down.
3.Scrap the steamed glutinuous rice dough and put onto another try with additional glutinuous rice flour.
4.Cut the dough with pastry cutter into 30gms each, flatten the dough into round shape, wrap in peanuts filling and make into balls. Coat with glutinuous rice flour again, ready to serve.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Seafood Pasta En Papillote

I first knew about this papillote method of cooking was thru Elin's blog. Since then, Elin has been cooking various dishes en papillote, here, here and here and a few more. I admire Elin's creativity and many great ideas in cooking , be it chinese or western. Not only that, she's also very good in baking cakes, breads, pies..etc. You can take a look at Elin's other blog, Elinluv's Sweet Delights. If you want to be a busybody like me to know what Elin has been up to besides cooking and baking, you can hop over to My Knick Knacks. I've been quietly reading her blog years ago, long way before i started mine and she's also the first blogger that i met in person..of all the market. Ha! i will never forget that. oh, am i supposed to talk about elin or my dish here?
En papillote is a French term means wrapping food in parchment paper or foil and baking it in the oven. You can do it with fish, chicken and pasta too. The paperbag will lock in all the flavours here to produce a tasty dish. Here you can see i'm doing  this with pasta. If you find this way fussy which i do not really think so, you can just toss the seasonings and the seafood with the pasta, it is still very tasty and i do that a lot of times but doing it en papilotte, i believe it further enhances the flavour and taste of the whole dish. Serve the package directly on the table if you like.

Ingredients( serves one)
120gm spaghetti
8 prawns, cleaned and peeled
1 small piece of squid, cleaned and cut into rings
1 small piece of snapper fillet ( i cut 1/2 of my snapper fillet)
1 clove garlic, chopped
7-8 cherry tomatoes/100gm tomatoes, chopped
40ml dry white wine
pinch of salt
some olive oil
some chopped coriander/parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Lightly blanch the squids over boiling water, drain and leave aside. Pour some olive oil in a saucepan and saute the garlic till aromatic. Add in the tomatoes, pour in the wine and let simmer for about 5-6 minutes.
3.Add in the the fish, squids, prawns, parsley, little pinch of salt and cover for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and leave aside.
4.Cook the spaghetti in a pot as per instructions in the packet. Drain and add to the seafood (3)
5.Cut 2 large pieces of parchment paper. Place the seafood pasta on the center of one piece of the parchment paper, add 2 tbsps of water and cover it with another piece of parchment paper.Fold the edges and seal with bamboo stick. You can also place another piece of aluminium paper beneath the bag. Bake around 15 minutes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Easy Chicken Pie

I would have delayed making these pies if not for the Aspiring Bakers Challenge #10- Easy as Pie Event.
You might wonder, are these really easy to make? well, you still have to make the pastry, you still have to cook the filling , but lesser ingredients. This is a non cream version of chicken pie and the crust is slightly different from the usual shortcrust pastry for chicken pies, this is slightly more crumbly, not bad actually. For those of you who like the rich and creamy fillings, you can also always add some cheddar cheese and some thick cream into the filling. If you like the oriental style of filling, you can add in some oyster sauce plus some hoisin sauce and a little char siew sauce. Cook in any way that you like best. It's only the beginning of August now, there's still a lot of time to take part in the Aspiring Bakers Event, do join in the fun to support!

Recipe ( from latest Yum Yum Magazine)
this is 1/2 of the recipe, makes 6 chicken pies with little leftover fillings

125gm plain flour, sifted
 75gm cold butter
1/2 tbsp sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 egg yolk
1-2 tbsp cold water

1tbsp oil
50gm mixed vegetables
50-70 ml water
1 medium onion, diced
150gm chicken breast meat, diced
1/2 can of button mushrooms( i omitted)
130gm potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced

1tsp salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
some black pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water for thickening ( check if you need this, i did not put this)

 1/2 egg + a little salt, lightly beaten

1.Pastry: Put all ingredients ( except egg yolk and water) into a mixing bowl and mix to a crumble. Add in egg yolk, water and mix into a soft dough. Keep dough in the fridge and rest for 30 minutes.

2. Filling: Heat up oil in wok, fry the onion until soft. Add chicken meat, mixed veggies, mushrooms, fry for a while to break up chicken. Add in potatoes, water and cook for about 5 minutes. Add in sugar, salt and black pepper. Add in the cornstarch and stit to thicken mixture. Taste and leave to cool for later use.

3.Take some dough and press into pie or tart cases. Poke hole on the base using a fork, place filling on top and press firmly. Cut another piece of dough to cover the top. Using fork, poke a few more times on the cover of the pie and glaze with beaten egg.

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes.

I am submitting this to the Aspiring Baker's #10: Easy As Pie ( August 2011) hosted by Janine of Not the Kitchen Sink

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hot and Sour Fish ( Gulai Tumis)

Today marks the first day of the holy month Ramadhan and Muslims around the world will begin fasting during the daylight hours for a 30day period. Here i would like to wish all my Muslim friends and readers," Selamat Berpuasa and have a blessed Ramadhan!"

Gulai Tumis is something like assam fish but they call it hot and sour fish curry . The sourness of this dish mainly comes from the extracted juice from the tamarind paste ( assam jawa) and how can we forget the ginger flower ( bunga kanthan) , i think this is quite an essential ingredient for cooking assam, it really enhances the flavour and i've also added some laksa leaves ( daun kesom) to go with that. This is a very appetising dish especially for those of you who loves sour and spicy dish and i can assure you that you will also end up 'drinking' a lot of this gravy!


1 medium sized black pomfret
3 stalks of laksa leaves/ daun kesom
1 ginger flower bud, finely sliced

Pounded ingredients:
20 dried chillies ( soak them in hot water first to soften them)
20 shallots
4 cloves garlic
3 stalks lemongrass, white parts
20gm turmeric/kunyit
20gm belachan
1 tbsp sugar

5 tbsp oil
80gm chilli boh
50gm tamarind paste(assam jawa)+ 500ml water to get tamarind juice
11/2 tsp salt
3-5 tsp sugar

1. Saute the pounded ingredients with oil together with the chilli boh in wok till aromatic, take around 10 minutes
2. Pour in the tamarind juice and add in the laksa leaves and bring to boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. Add in the fish, ginger flower,salt ,sugar and taste. Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Done.

Will be sharing this dish in the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday Event