Monday, August 12, 2013

Kay Hong - A Tale of 2 Meats

I have braised meat previously, either pork or chicken, but never combining both.  No turning back after trying this recipe that has 2 types of meat, it is like having the best of both worlds in one bowl.  Oh, I think it should be best of 3 worlds since the hard-boiled eggs play a vital role here too. 

Source:  Jolly Belly series
Yield:  Serves 4 adults
450g chicken
250g pork belly (skin on, cut into 1" cubes)
6 hard boiled eggs
150g shallots
3 cloves garlic
3tbsp oil
50g bean paste
1tbsp palm sugar
2tbsp kicap manis
1tsp dark caramel sauce (or as needed)
Salt to taste

1/  Grind shallots and garlic to a fine paste. 
2/  Heat oil and sauté shallot garlic paste till fragrant and looks glossy, then pun in bean paste to continue to sauté until fragrant. 
3/  Turn heat to high, put in pork belly and cook until meat turns opaque and smells good. 
4/  Put in 2 cups of water and transfer to a small pot, put in palm sugar, kicap manis, dark caramel sauce, then bring this to a boil and cover with a lid. 
5/  Lower heat and leave this to simmer for 40 minutes before adding chicken to bring it to a boil, and simmer yet again for another 30 minutes. 
6/  Adjust with salt, then put in eggs to let the gravy simmer for another 5-10 minutes. 
7/  Turn off heat and let the dish sit in pot until ready to serve at dinner time. 

Thanks Wendy for the exact measurement. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Soft Spongy Banana Cake

Let's have Banana Cake for tea...this one has by far, the softest spongy texture I had baked all these while.  My only regret?!?  For only trying it now and not earlier as the google result showed a blogger posting it as early as January 2010 March 2009 because that was when Wen first blogged about this recipe.  But well, better late than never.  This will definitely be my go to recipe for Banana Cake moving forward.  In fact, it was so so good, I made it again the next day for my inlaws. 

Initially when I was reading through the recipe, I was doubtful that the recipe would work because it called for the banana to be cut into small pieces, and not smashed.  My suspicion was unfounded since there were so many rave reviews about this recipe, so I went ahead to give it a shot.  I cut the banana into quarters length-wise, as in four strips, then cut each strip into 2mm slices, so it looks kind of like a quarter-circle each piece. 
 This is how fluffy the mixture was after whisking, and the bananas were all smashed up nicely. 

Source: Wen's Delight, with tips from Fong's Kitchen Journal
Yield:  7" square or 8" round cake
2.5-3 Eggs (at room temp - about 150g)
130g sugar (reduced from original 150g)
200g banana (ripe & cut into small pcs)
150g top Flour (or plain flour/superlite flour/cake flour) *I used plain flour*
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
100g Corn oil (or any vegetable oil except olive oil, if prefer richer flavour replace with melted butter but it may cover the banana fragrant)
1/8tsp banana essense (optional) *I omitted this*

1/  Preheat oven to 160 degree Celcius, grease and line cake tin with paper. 
2/  Sieve flour, baking powder and soda together twice then set aside. 
3/  Whisk eggs, sugar & banana at maximum speed till stiff ribbon stage.  (For KA, it was 10-13mins)
4/  Fold in flour and mix well. (Can use spatular or hand to mix)
5/  Add in oil to mix well till batter is shiny and flowing. 
6/  Bake for 40 - 45mins.

a/  Eggs and sugar must be whisked at high or maximum speed till the content tripled.  You should get a thick creamy batter.  When you lift up the balloon whisk, the batter will stick on the whisk and then drop after 1 to 2 seconds.  To help to stabilise the eggs, add a pinch of salt before whisking.
b/  Next, folding of sifted flour into the batter.  Fold the flour in 2 to 3 batches with your hand or spatula, in an up-down circular motion, each time scooping the flour from the bottom of the mixer.
c/  Once all the flour is added in (no need to fold the flour in completely yet), pour in the oil.  The flour particles in the batter helps to absorb the oil, which will prevent the cake from getting oily.
d/  Another popular alternative is to mix the oil with a little batter first, before folding into the remaining batter.  I guess a combination of these two method should yield good result.  What you want to achieve is a thick and shiny batter.  There should not be too much air bubbles in the batter, or the cake will sink after baking.  
e/  Give the cake pan a gentle tap to remove big air bubbles just before baking. 

Watch this youtube to get the illustration on the notes. 

Thanks to all the kind souls for sharing so generously. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stir-Fry Cucumber

A quick stir-fry that I did at the spur of the moment.  It's my first time creating this, and it was pretty decent. 

Yield:  Serves 2 adults
1 tbsp oil
3 pips garlic - crushed and chopped
50g minced meat
1 cucumber (300g) - cut into quarters lengthwise, then sliced into 5mm thick diagonally
1 tbsp oyster sauce
Salt to taste
125ml water

1/  Heat up wok, add the oil then fry garlic till aromatic and golden. 
2/  Add in minced meat till it turns opaque, then add cucumber to fry for 5 minutes. 
3/  Mix in oyster sauce, salt and water.  Let it come to a boil to thicken slightly before dishing out and serve. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Chocolate Kopitiam Milk Buns

This is my second attempt at the Kopitiam Milk Bun, but chocolate flavour.   Some modifications on the recipe in red below, and I left the buns unglazed.  Also, I used a bigger pan to, a 10" square for smaller buns of 12 pieces this time.  Size wise, I prefer the one in my previous attempt, which yield 9 pieces.  Somehow with the buns adjoining each other, the texture was softer in the original flavour compared to this Chocolate Kopitiam Milk Bun.  Another reason I could think of was because I used a whole egg this time round?  Hmm...I can only guess as much, to confirm, I would need to make another batch.  Shall see when I can get to that. 

Flavour wise, the chocolate was fragrant and it was not as sweet as original flavour. 
CHOCOLATE KOPITIAM MILK BUNSource:  Sonia , modified by me
Yield:  12 pieces (50g each) using 10" square mould
Starter sponge dough
215g high protein flour
125g full cream milk (cold)
2g (1/2tsp) instant yeast

1/  Mix all ingredients till combined into a rough dough (I used KitchenAid) and store in a container (with extra room for dough to rise) for 4-5 hours at room temperature or 12-16 hours refrigerated. 

Bread dough
1 quantity of the above starter sponge dough
90g high protein flour *I used plain flour as I ran out of high protein flour*
30g egg (1/2 size A egg) *I used 60g of egg*
4g (1tsp) instant yeast
60g castor sugar
10g cocoa powder
 1 tbsp full cream milk (cold)  *I omitted this since I used one whole egg* 
 45g butter (softened)

30g egg (for glazing the buns)  *I omitted this*

1/  Place all ingredients except butter in a mixing bowl, then tear the starter sponge dough into smaller pieces and knead everything together to get a smooth dough (I used KitchenAid speed 2). 
2/  Add in butter to knead dough further till it is shiny, elastic and passed the window-pane test. 
3/  Leave dough aside for 10 minutes, then scale according to size preferred. 
4/  Place dough into tray and let it double in size, about 45-60 minutes. 
5/  Egg wash the buns, then bake them in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes at 160 degree Celcius. 
This is how it looks like before mixing - the torn sponge dough with all the ingredients except butter. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Banana Raisin Almond Cinnamon Rolls

Baked some Cinnamon Rolls which I saw on ChefandSommelier's blog, who in turn was using Aunty Yochana's recipe.  I added extra ingredients, that being raisins (for the raisin-monster at home) and bananas (my first time using banana in Cinnamon Rolls).  Also, had to change the nuts to almond slivers instead of walnuts per original recipe because I over-toasted (read: burnt) the walnuts, and that rendered them inedible. 

Source:  Aunty Yochana with modification from ChefandSommelier
Yield:  9 pieces (8" square tray)
210g bread flour
90g plain flour
10g instant yeast
60g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
120ml milk
60g soft butter

2tbsp butter - melted (For a richer version, cut butter into slices/cubes)
60g brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon powder
(We increased the sugar and cinnamon powder portion as we thought result using above original recipe's portion was too blend)
30g almond slivers - toasted
2tbsp raisins - soaked and drained
3 bananas - sliced just before using

Beaten egg for brushing *I omitted this, and used melted butter instead*
Brown sugar for sprinkling

1/  Mix all the bread ingredients together except butter and beat till a smooth dough is formed.
2/  Add in butter and continue beating for another 5 minutes, then leave dough to prove for 45 minutes until double in size. 
3/  Mix brown sugar, cinnamon powder and almond slivers together.
4/  Roll dough into a rectangular shape, then brush soft butter (Or place the cut butter evenly if using) all over the dough surface. 
5/  Sprinkle brown sugar mixture all over, then scatter raisins and bananas onto dough before rolling up dough into a swiss roll and cut into 9 sections. 
6/  Place cut rolls on greased tray, then let it proof again for another 30 minutes. 
7/  Brush rolls with melted butter (or beaten egg if using) and bake at 180C for about 12 minutes or till golden brown.  Sprinkle brown sugar for a glistening effect. 

These Banana Raisin Almond Cinnamon Rolls were soft and very yummy, and was well-received by all in the family.  I didn't want to break an egg just for egg wash because I know I won't be able to finish using the whole egg, thus I opted for melted butter which was leftover from brushing over the dough in order for the cinnamon sugar to stick onto the dough.  Then I sprinkled some brown sugar upon removing the tray of bread from the oven, to get some shine and crunch. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sauteed Pork Mince For Noodle Soup

This is a nice keeper recipe to be served noddle soup which I adapted from Wendy's.  My usual simple way of cooking noodle soup is dumping everything into the pot, hahha...  Sometimes I would form the minced meat into balls, sometimes I just pour everything in and give it a quick stir with chopsticks to break up the meat in order to get bits and pieces of minced meat in the soup.  Both ways provided different texture to the bowl of piping hot noodle soup, and I love them just the same. 
Now I have discovered a new twist, and it is delish.  The extra step yield a sumptuous bowl of noodle soup, and besides that, I think this can be used as toppings for tofu as well, or even with a bowl of steamed rice.  It might be a tad salty on its own, but with the noodle soup, the flavour is just nice. 
Source:  Table for Two
3 tbsp oil
4 shallots (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
300g minced pork (with some fat)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark caramel sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
pepper to taste
1/  Heat wok and put in oil, then sauté shallots and garlic till almost golden. 
2/  Add in minced to cook till it turns opaque, put in all seasonings and cook until almost dry then dish up. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Corn Butter Rice

I was kind of hooked to butter rice after my first taste here.  It is like a two-in-one dish, so that by adding the vegetables to the rice, we won't be eating plain white starch.  Pair this with a meat dish, a meal is complete.  This Corn Butter Rice stores well too, so I made a big batch and kept them in serving size in the fridge, so just reheat it to save time.  I discovered this because I doubled the recipe for this variety because the can of nibbed corn (200g drained weight) was too much for 200g of rice. 

Source: Modified by Jottings of Life from "My Treasured Tasty Temptations" by Chef Alan Kok (page 34)
Yield:  Serves 4 adults
2 tbsp butter
4 pips garlic (crushed and chopped)
1 can corn kernel (200g drained weight)
400g rice (washed and drained well)
2 tsp salt
700ml water

1/  Melt butter in a wok, then sauté garlic till aromatic before adding in corn and rice to stir-fry till well mixed. 
2/  Transfer rice mixture into a big bowl, then add in salt and water to cook till done in a steamer. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Carrot Butter Rice

Bored with the usual steamed white rice, do try this for a change...and it is more nutritious too with the added fibre that the carrot cubes provided.  It is marvellous how one tablespoon of butter can make a huge difference in giving this rice the umami factor.  

Source: "My Treasured Tasty Temptations" by Chef Alan Kok (page 34)
Yield:  Serves 2 adults
1 tbsp butter
2 pips garlic (crushed and chopped)
1/2 carrot (diced)
200g rice (washed and drained well)
1 tsp salt
350ml water

1/  Melt butter in a wok, then sauté garlic till aromatic before adding in carrot and rice to stir-fry till well mixed. 
2/  Transfer rice mixture into a rice cooker, then add in salt and water to cook till done.  This can also be steamed, which I did. 

I find that the carrot was too little, so the second time I cooked this, I doubled the carrot amount and made it the same weight as the rice, which was 200g.  I preferred this better. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pan-fried Red Bean Buns

A very quick and easy recipe for afternoon tea, from step one till the end, it took exactly 60 minutes.  Half of that duration was for resting of the dough, so this is good for while multi-tasking.  The dough is chewy and this Pan-fried Red Bean Buns can be quite filling too, don't underestimate its size.  As I ran out of red bean fillings, I quickly resorted to peanut fillings in order to finished up the dough.  Comparing both flavours, I preferred the latter, partly because it wasn't too sweet, and also there was some bites to it.  Somehow the buns with peanut fillings were smaller, wonder why... 

Source: "My Treasured Tasty Temptations" by Chef Alan Kok (page 24)
Yield:  14 pieces (20g of dough each piece)
Skin dough:
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tbsp castor sugar
a dash of salt
90-100ml water *I used 120ml instead because my dough was too dry*
1/2 tbsp shortening (5g)

1 can of azuki red bean paste (200g) - bought from Daiso

3 tbsp coarse ground peanuts
1.5 tbsp soft brown sugar
some toasted sesame seeds

1/  Mix all ingredients except shortening into a dough, then lastly add in shortening to form a smooth dough.  Cover with a piece of damp towel and rest for 10 minutes. 
2/  Divide dough into 20 small portions (15g each), round up and rest for 10 minutes.  * I reversed it and weighed the dough into 20g each to get 14 pieces, and still find the resulting buns too small.*
3/  Flatten the dough and wrap with a tablespoon of filling of choice, seal then let it rest for 10 minutes covered with damp towel. 
4/  If using peanut fillings, combine both the ground peanut and soft brown sugar, then wrap as per step (3).  Wet the surface with some water, then stick on some sesame seeds to differentiate between the two types of fillings. 
5/  Heat up a non-stick pan, pan-fry buns on low heat until both sides are golden brown, dish up and serve. 

I managed to get 8 pieces of buns with red bean fillings, and 6 pieces with peanut fillings. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sizzling Hot Plate Tofu

 This hot plate had been in cold storage for ages, so it is high high time to draw upon it to make this dish... A firm hot favourite at those Chu-char hawker stalls and the aroma that it emits when the dish arrives is very inviting.  Usually Japanese egg tofu is used, but square firm tofu can be called upon as well.  The place we usually frequent uses frozen peas, corn and carrot but here I substituted with broccoli instead.  Mushrooms can be added also, and instead of minced meat that I have added in this recipe, prawn makes a good choice too.  NO hard and fast rule on this, just adapt the steps and use the recipe accordingly. 

Source:  Jottings of Life
Yield:  Serves 2 pax
2 pieces firm tofu (cut into 4 thick slices, then half lengthwise)
4 tbsp corn flour (to coat tofu)
4 tbsp oil
2 pips garlic (chopped)
100g minced meat
50g broccoli (chopped)
50g carrot (cubed )
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
125ml water
1 egg

1/  Heat up pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, then pan-fry the corn flour-coated firm tofu slices until golden on both sides over slow fire, then put aside. 
2/  Discard the oil and rinse the pan to rid it of corn flour. 
3/  Then heat up 2 tablespoon of oil in the pan, add chopped garlic till fragrant. 
4/  Add minced meat to the wok and fry till it turns opaque.  Next add in broccoli and carrot till cooked, but still maintaining the crunch. 
5/  Finally add in the seasoning and water and let it come to a boil, then switch off the stove. 
6/  Heat up the sizzling hot plate for 5 minutes, then add in the last tablespoon of oil. 
7/  Arrange tofu slices on the hot plate, then pour in the ingredients from step (5).   
8/  Once the sizzle can be heard, crack an egg on top and switch off the fire.  The egg will continue to cook because of the hot plate. 
9/  Serve immediately. 

To care for the hot plate which is made of cast iron, once it has been washed and dried, apply a layer of oil on it (to prevent rust) before storage. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Home-made Sweetened Condensed Milk


Never thought that Condensed Milk can be made at home, and chancing upon this while at Shannon's blog, it was an eye-opener.  The amount of recipes she has there to make food items from scratch really amazes me, and I was in A-W-E! 

This Home-made Sweetened Condensed Milk was one of it, and I can't help imagine how good it is as there were 120 comments.  It surely must be something I was keen to try, what's more with the extremely short list of ingredients.  Only three, nothing more, nothing less.  Cooking steps was easy, as in involves only stirring this over the stove every 15 minutes over the duration of 2 hours.  So that would be 8 times of muscle work, thereabout. 

The outcome - is a very fragrant sweetened condensed milk.  It is totally different from commercial ones because it has an aroma which is indescribable, simply delicious.  I didn't make any bakes with it (just yet), but just used it with the local kopi-0 and it is Oomph!! 

I might try with different brands of fresh milk for future trials, and for the record, I used Magnolia's Fresh Milk this time.  It is the yellow bow (4th from left) in the photo in this post

Source:  Just as Delish
Yield:  1 jar of 400ml
1 liter fresh milk
1 cup castor sugar (or use brown sugar/honey)
1 tbsp butter

1/  In a pot, bring milk and sugar to a boil over medium heat. 
2/  Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently for about two hours until volume is reduced by half.  The mixture should be barely simmering and never bubbling at any time to get a smooth outcome. 
3/  Stir every 15 minutes to keep the milk from forming a "skin" on top. 
4/  Stir in butter at 2 hours mark, and once butter has melted, remove the Home-made Sweetened Condensed Milk from heat and let it cool.  Mixture will thicken further after it has cooled. 

Keep refrigerated to prolong shelf-life. 
When refrigerated, home-made sweetened condensed milk has thicker consistency than commercial ones, but you can add a few drops of water to whisk it lightly to get a thinner mixture, but I didn't. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Carrot and Cucumber Pickle


Chanced upon this at Kimmy's blog, it's my first time there.  Stumbled upon a treasure trove of recipes there because I was googling for "Ogura Cakes", and my, the varieties she made had me in awe.  So many choices, I didn't know which to pick because all looks so interesting.  While at her site, I also started to browse through her recipes, and this caught my attention.  Her method of making Carrot and Cucumber Pickle was different from what I had encountered previously, as it doesn't involve any heating up of the vinegar to dissolve the sugar.  That means one less step to do, easy for me, better for the environment as well for it uses less resources in terms of gas (for heating up the vinegar solution) and water (for washing the pot used in heating up the vinegar solution).  So much rambling, it is actually because I am l*zy, in other words. 

Results were very crunchy, and simply refreshing with sweet sourish taste.  The original recipe called for Japanese cucumber, but I just used normal ones.  I bet the Japanese cucumber will yield more crunch because eaten on its own, it is more crunchy than the normal variety of local cucumber.  Just remember to remove the seeds, else the vinegar solution might turn slimy and cloudy because of the seeds "melting". 
Oh, another thing, the vinegar solution can be reused, which I did to make another batch of just cucumber as I prefer cucumber to carrot.  An important point to take note is - remember to top up with some sugar when reusing the vinegar for subsequent use because I was not aware of this, and my pickle cucumber from second batch turned out to be quite bland.  How much sugar to add, well, probably can try with 2 tablespoons?  I would need to go back to the drawing board to get the answer. 

Source:  Cooking Pleasure
Yield:  One 400ml jar
1 local cucumber
1 carrot (200g)
1 red chilli - halved and deseeded
5tbsp apple cider vinegar or white rice vinegar
3tbsp castor sugar
a pinch of salt

1/  Cut cucumber into 4cm chunks, then cut the four sides around it to get 4 slices, leaving the seeds to be discarded.  Then cut the cucumber into thick strips. 
2/  Cut carrot into 4cm strips, and the chilli into thin strips. 
3/  Rinse all vegetables in boiled cold water and drain them. 
4/  Place the vegetables in a glass jar, pour in the vinegar followed by the sugar and salt. 
5/  Screw on the cover and shake till the sugar has melted, then chill in the refrigerator at least a day before serving.