Saturday, January 20, 2007

If you have been visiting my blog you would have noticed that I have not been updating it as much as before.

Lately, my work has been keeping me very busy during the day and by the time I reached home, I am brain dead. I am still baking though, and I am still trying out new recipes about 2 or 3 times a week as this has always been my way of relieving stress. It is just that I have not been taking pictures of them or uploading them to the blog. Hopefully thing will return to normalcy for me and I can start to blog actively again.

Here is a roundup of some of the stuff that I have made the past week.

Special Chocolate Cake. This is one of my favorite no fail recipe taken from the Australian Women's Weekly and of which I have been using for years. It is easy to do, tastes rich and stays moist up to three days. I did not take a picture but it looks similar to the Cherry Chocolate Cake below minus the cherries.
Here is the recipe for my colleague Sharon who requested for it and for also for Annie from RH:

Special Chocolate Cake
500ml water
660gm caster sugar
35g cocoa powder
250g butter, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
450g self-raising flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten

1) Preheat oven to 175 degree C.
2) Grease a 10" x 13" cake tin and line base with baking paper.
3) Combine water, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarbonate soda and butter in a pot and heat without boiling till sugar is dissolved.
4) Increase heat and bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
5) Transfer to mixing bowl and leave to cool till lukewarm.
6) Stir in sifted flour and eggs and beat till mixture is smooth.
7) Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick/skewer in the centre of the cake. Cake is done when no crumbs sticks to the skewer.
8) Cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool.

During the weekend, I tried a Steamed White Radish Cake taken from another blog. The ratio of radish versus rice flour/water initially scared me. I was apprehensive as to how the cake will turn out. Surprisingly, it was very good. It was robust, full of flavor and it tasted even better when lightly pan-fried. However, due to the large amount of white radish used, there was a tinge of bitterness in it. I made note on my recipe card that when making this cake again, I must squeeze out some of the radish juice to reduce the bitterness.
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From the same blog, I tried a very innovative pseudo Tiramisu cake made from Cocoa Puff biscuits. You add cream, which have first been mixed with rum and vanilla essence, to the layers of cocoa puff biscuits. Then you top with more cream, some cocktail fruits and set the top with jelly.
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The original recipe calls for Alsa Gulaman, a quick setting crystal jelly popular in the Philippines. I supposed I could find this at Lucky Plaza which is a haven for Filipino food products but I was too impatient to wait till my next trip into town. Since I do not have this on hand, I had substituted it with instant jelly dissolved in cranberry juice. It tasted real good. The biscuits have soften to a stage that it tasted like a rum soaked sponge and because I have added some Cheesecake candy oil to the cream, I feel as though I am biting into a cream cheese concoction..
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This last cake, a Cherry Chocolate Cake is a bonus because I have been begging this lady for the recipe for the longest time. She had refused to impart the recipe to me and preferring to make me one each time she visits. However I think my patience paid off after all these years of nagging and bugging her. She finally relented but not without making me promise not to share the recipe. I just love the moist and chocolately flavor of the cake and juiciness that comes from the cherries. Yum!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Getting To Know You

What a great time I had on Sunday!

It was a day of getting to know the members of Imperial Kitchen (IK), a newly set up food forum.

It was really like Christening ceremony as IK is just over a month old and Lucy, an IK member, made the perfect cake for the occasion.

Chocolate Cake made by Lucy (Yochana)
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There were easily 30 of us gathered over Lucy's humongous kitchen table which was laden with a good spread of food contributed by the members. We had Green Tea Cheesecake, Chestnut Mousse Cake, Kueh Lapis, Tri-colored Swissroll, Jellies, Cream Puffs, Durian Puffs, Tiramisu, Brownies (wait....let me catch my breath)...Mango Strudel, Curry Puffs, Banana Chocolate Muffins, Iced Vanilla Cupcakes, Fried Chicken Wings, WaterChestnut Dessert, Black Glutinuous Rice Dessert, Walnut Raisin Cake......(another deep breath needed)....Vietnamese Springrolls, Quickbread, Cinnamon Rolls, Lemon Rolls, Nonya Cakes, Otah, Tao Suan, Chicken-Corn I missing anything?

Food, Glorius Food (photos reproduced by kind permission of Jo-Karlskrona)
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My contribution was the Japanese Style Chinese Salad Rolls. Japanese Style because the recipe uses Japanese Vermicelli (tang hoon) which is thicker than the Chinese tang hoon and 'Japanese' Sichuan Bean Paste to fry the minced meat. To eat this, you take a piece of lettuce leaf, pile it up with vermicelli, minced meat and assorted vegetable sticks & honey-baked ham, then roll up or fold over the edges of the leaf to enclose the fillings into a roll.

I am sharing the recipe here at the request of some of the members.

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Chinese Salad Rolls (Japanese Style)

300g minced pork or chicken
3 tbsp chopped canned bamboo shoots
6 Chinese mushrooms, soaked overnight, chopped finely
1 medium sized large onion, chopped
1 small pieces ginger, chopped (about 1 tsp)
12 tbsp water
5 - 6 tsp sugar
6 tsp Hua Tiao wine
3-4 tbsp Japaneses Sichuan dou pan jian (spicy beanpaste - Youki brand)
4-6 tbsp light soya sauce (more or less depending how salty your soya sauce is)
12 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, chopped

1) Heat wok and put in 1 tsp of oil and saute mushrooms till fragrant, dish up and set aside.
2) Reheat wok and put in tsp of oil and saute bamboo shoots for a few minutes, dish up and set aside.
3) Reheat wok, add 2-3 tbsp oil and fry garlics, onions and ginger till fragrant.
4) Add meat and stir fry continuously to break up the meat. Add the mushrooms & bamboo shoots.
5) Add the beanpaste, followed by the rest of the seasoning ingredients and water and cook till meat is cooked and the water has been absorbed.
6) Dish up and set aside to cool.

Japanese cucumbers*
Red, Green or Yellow Capsicums
Chinese Lettuce or Butterhead Lettuce
Honeybaked ham or chicken ham
1 packet Japanese Vermicelli (Mitsukan brand) - boil in water till soften and soak in cold water. Strain well before using.

Cut vegetables & ham into thin sticks about 4cm in length and display on serving dish.

*Prepare a big bowl of water and add some sugar to it. Soak the cut carrots and cucumbers for about 10 minutes. This helps to make them crunchier.
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To Serve:
1) Wrap some meat and your choice of vegetables in the lettuce.

1) The Youki bean paste is not so beany in taste as the Chinese dou pan jiang and it does not have a raw chilli taste like some Chinese brands.
2) You can purchase both the bean paste and vermicelli from the Japanese section of Cold Storage.
Youki Sichuan Beanpaste
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Mitsukan Vermicelli
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3) If you are using minced pork, you may use less oil for frying as the meat will ooze oil by itself.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Year, A New Beginning

Happy New Year one and all.

2007 will be a challenging year for me as I embark on new responsibilities and different roles at work. I have much to learn and I have to learn them fast. There is always the initial apprehension and I must psyche myself to overcome the fear of the unknown as only by overcoming this fear will I then be able to perform well. Wish me luck.

My first bake to usher in the New Year is the Chestnut Tartlets. The insides of tart shells are brushed with melted chocolate before being filled with Cream Patissiere. A dollop of whipped cream is then piped on top of the Cream Patissiere. Finally, chestnut puree is dizzled all over. The whole concoction is then topped off with a single chocolate almond. The rum-laced Cream Patissiere is silky smooth and the chestnut puree is very fragrant. Absolutely wonderful with a cup of black coffee.
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For lunch, I had prepared three dishes.

The first is Prime Ribs with Bittergourd in Homemade Glutinuous Wine. The wine was made by DH's colleague. The hearty dish tasted sweetly of wine and is fantastic with a bowl, no make it two, of steaming hot rice.
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The next dish is something which I saw during my last trip to Malacca. I was walking past this coffeeshop and saw a newspaper cutting on one of the famous Muar Otah Fishpaste. Accompanying the report was a picture of a dish of longbeans that were fried with the otah fishpaste. I did not get a chance to try this dish as the stall was closed but I had imagine it to be cooked in the same way as longbeans with sambal dried prawns. This dish can be prepared in a jiffy as you do away with all the pounding of spices and dried shrimps for the sambal. All you need is to fry the longbeans in otah fish paste and the dish is ready in a flash.
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The final dish is Honey Marmite Chicken. I first tasted this during lunch at Far East Plaza. I liked it so much that I went back a second time just to try to figure out what goes in. I think I have pretty much got it down to pat and dare say I that it tasted even better than the original.
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If you want to give it a try, here is my recipe:

Honey Marmite Chicken
3 chicken thighs
Wash and drain the thighs well. Chop each into 4 (or 5 if the thighs are big) pieces. Marinate for half to one hour in 2 tbsp light soya sauce and 1 tbps Hua Tiao wine.

1 rounded tsp Marmite yeast extract
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp light soya sauce
Mix everything together.

1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp Hua Tiao wine

1) Deep fry the chicken pieces in batches till golden brown and skin is crispy. Drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
2) Heat 1 tbsp oil and saute garlics till light brown.
3) Add the gravy ingredients and cook till glossy.
4) Add the fried chicken pieces and quickly toss to coat well.
5) Splash in the wine from the side of the wok just before dishing up the chicken.

If you want a bit more gravy, you can increase gravy ingredients by 50%. There should be just enough gravy to coat the chicken (they should not be 'swimming' in it.)