Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cream Scones

Scones... They conjure up images of ladies who lunch. Ahh... to be one of them. Anyway, getting back to reality, scones are wonderful British cakes typically consumed for tea. There are a variety of scones and they can be sweet or savoury.

The recipe I used here is adapted from the wonderful Joy of Baking. The scones are light with a crispy exterior. It has that texture which is between a biscuit and a cake which is utterly delightful.

This recipe yields 5 scones.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk
Cream for glazing

1) Preheat oven to 190C and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a cookie sheet.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. In a small measuring cup, combine the milk, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.
3) Knead dough gently on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat dough into a circle that is about 3.5 inches (9cm) round. Then using a 2 1/2 inch (6.5 cm) round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds. Place the rounds on the prepared cookig sheet, spacing a few inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream.
4) Bake for about 18 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve with softly whipped cream and your favourite jam.

These scones freeze very well.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dhal Curry

There used to be a makeshift stall near my house which sells the best nasi (rice) dhalca. It is basically rice with chicken in dhal curry; but the curry was a burst of all-the-right-combination-of-flavours and the chicken meat was so tender, it practically fell off the bone. I'm just salivating right now reminiscing about it.

We have been happily consuming the nasi dhalca for years when one dark day, my dad returned from the nasi dhalca stall and informed us that the seller has decided he wouldn't be continuing with his business any longer. Rage and confusion mingled in me.. what? why isn't he passing on his legacy to his kid or something? how will we live without his curry? why does everything happen to meeeeee??

As we all know, we cannot control everything and everyone. So when I had a hankering for dhal curry recently, I decided to try out several recipes until I find one which is good enough to at least resemble The One. This one is great tasting with the right amount of heat and spices.

This recipe yields 5-6 servings (adapted from the hungry horse)

2 tsp whole mustard seeds
2 tbsp turmeric
4 cloves
4 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp of ghee plus 4 tbsp of olive oil
2 cup of chopped red onion
4 slices of ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green chilli, cut into large slices
6 cups of water
450g yellow split peas, soaked overnight
2 small potato, diced
2 small carrot, diced
Salt to taste

1) In a small bowl, combine and moisten spices (mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves and curry powder) with a few tablespoons of water so it won't burn when they are fried later.
2) In a heavy pot, heat ghee and olive oil over medium­-low heat.
3) Sauté onions, ginger and garlic until onions are translucent, about 2­-3 mins. Add in the moistened spices and green chillies and continue sauteing until mixture is fragrant, about 2 mins.
4) Add water, split peas, potatoes and carrots and give a good stir.
5) Bring curry to a boil and let simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stir occasionally.
6) The dhall curry is ready when the split peas are soft and begin to break apart. You can add more water if curry is too thick. Check seasoning and serve with naan or hot rice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Best Homemade Garlic Naan

I've been obsessed with finding a good recipe for naan ever since my first attempt. I've scoured the internet for tips and videos on how other people make theirs at home. I was adamant that my naan should include yeast and yogurt, so any recipe without those were excluded. Finally, using Aayi's Recipes as a base, I came up with a recipe which seems right to me theoretically.

Besides the different ingredients called for in different recipes, there were a few methods for baking naans at home. The aim is to bake naans in very very high temperature like the professionals do in tandoors. A few cooks use baking or pizza stones in their ovens to bake naans on whilst others use the grill. Having neither a baking stone nor a grill, I was very interested in the method used by one Indian chef who cooks naans by holding the dough over an open flame. Curious, I decided to try out the Indian chef's method and also to use a conventional oven using the same recipe so I can compare how the naans cooked in these two methods would differ.

This recipe yields 5 naans

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon + 1/3 teaspoon instant yeast
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoon yogurt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
Butter, softened

1) In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
2) Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and slowly pour in milk, yogurt and oil. Slowly draw the flour from the edges of the well into the liquid mixture to make a soft dough. Knead for 3-4 minutes. Dough should be very soft and a little bit sticky. Do not overknead here.
3) Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.
4) Preheat oven to 250C with cookie sheet placed on lowest shelf.
5) Punch down dough. Divide dough into 5 balls. Coat balls with a bit of flour and roll them out to about 1/4 inch thick. Gently pull down one side to make a teardrop shape. Press garlic into the surface of the dough.
6) Bake in oven on lowest shelf for 3 minutes or until bubbles start to form. Take out, prick bubbles, turn over dough and bake on middle shelf for 2 minutes or until slightly browned.
7) Glaze naan with butter.

Serve immediately with your favourite curry.

For stovetop method:
1) Place dough on wire mesh.
2) Fire up your stove. Hold the wire mesh over the naked flame and move it around constantly to make sure every part of the dough gets the flame. Do not stop at one spot for too long. Make sure to check the bottom of the dough occasionally to avoid massive charring. Once browned, turn the dough over and do the same thing to the other side.
3) Glaze naan with butter.

I preferred the stovetop method. It resulted in softer naans and I could control how brown I would like my naans to be. The oven-baked naans were good as well. I was afraid to bake them too long as I wanted them to be soft and pliable.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Green Tea Yogurt Cupcakes

I've been looking for recipes for baked goods using green tea powder and stumbled upon this recipe in Little Corner of Mine. I used Dutch Lady's natural yogurt which is sweetened so the flavour and texture of the cupcakes are not as the author intended. The texture came out a bit spongy, sort of like the texture of kuih.

This recipe as adapted yields 8 cupcakes.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp green tea powder
1/2 cup Dutch Lady natural yogurt
1 1/2 large eggs, whisked
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a big bowl, whisk (A) together.
3. Add in (B) and whisk until incorporated.
4. Pour batter into muffin pan to 3/4 full.
5. Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo is not a dish I'm familiar with, which just makes it a more appealing recipe to try. The ingredients in the dish are similar to ones we usually use in curries, with the absence of curry powder and coconut milk. It has good flavour and since the gravy does not consist of coconut milk, it is a rather light and healthy dish too.

This recipe serves 2 people and is adapted from Aayi's Recipes.

1/4 kg chicken
1 cup chopped onions
1 tsp vinegar (I used distilled vinegar)
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp chili powder or 4-5 red chilies (increase the amount of chilies if required)
3/4 cup water
3-4 strands coriander leaves

1. Grind together ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and red chilies (or just add chili powder) to a smooth paste. Apply this paste and salt to the chicken.

2. Heat oil and fry onions on a low heat till the onions turn dark brown and crispy. Take them out on a clean kitchen towel to remove all the extra oil. Grind to a paste along with vinegar. Add this to the chicken. Leave it aside for 30mins.

3. Heat a little oil in thick bottomed pan. Add the marinated chicken with all the marinade, then stir in water to your preferred consistency. Cook till chicken is tender and gravy is thickened. Add salt to taste. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spiced Honey-Lemon Muffins

I made these cupcakes one day when I had leftover lemons. Another thing going for it was that it was fairly easy to make as I was too lazy to attempt a complicated recipe. I adapted this recipe from the fabulous Betty Crocker.


3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Honey-Lemon Glaze
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Heat oven to 205C. Grease bottoms only of 8 medium muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.
2. Beat milk, oil, honey, lemon peel and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except Honey-Lemon Glaze just until flour is moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (cups will be about 3/4 full).
3. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan.
4. Brush Honey-Lemon Glaze over warm muffins.

To make the Honey-Lemon Glaze:
Mix all ingredients until well blended.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dory Fish with Rice Wine

This was an okay dish. I had leftover dory fish from my disastrous experiment with fish and chips and saw this recipe which uses mirin. It sounded interesting. However, I had to rescale the recipe to fit the size of the fish I had. Not a good idea. The sauce was too little and I had to scrape the sauce over the fish just to cover it. However, the flavour was quite good, if a tad salty.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chicken Burgers

Remember the buns I made the other day? Well, I filled them up with some pieces of rotisserie chicken, lightly fried onions, tomato, lettuce with lashings of mayonnaise and dijon mustard. Don't forget to put in a fried egg as well. It adds an interesting depth to the burgers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Burger Buns

I like making things from scratch and seriously, who in their right minds would make buns from scratch? The commercial buns are light and fluffy. Great toasted with meat patties or frankfurters. But the idea kept taunting me and finally I gave in and decided to plunge right in. This recipe from the King Arthur Flour site was really good. The buns are more crunchy than fluffy and denser than the bites of air you'd get from commercial buns.

This yields 3 buns.


1 teaspoons granulated sugar
0.8 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon water
5 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon warm milk
(41°C to 46°C)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
sesame, poppy or caraway seeds or coarse salt (optional)


1) In a large bowl, add the sugar, yeast, water, milk, oil, salt and 1/4 cup of flour. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Gradually add flour, 3 tablespoons at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
2) Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Because this dough is so slack, you may find that a bowl scraper or bench knife can be helpful in scooping up the dough and folding it over on itself.
3) Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
4) Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide into 3 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Flatten the balls into 3 1/2-inch disks. For soft-sided buns, place them on a well-seasoned baking sheet a half inch apart so they'll grow together when they rise. For crisper buns, place them three inches apart.
5) Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
6) Fifteen minutes before you want to bake your buns, preheat your oven to 204°C. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with whatever seeds strike your fancy.
7) Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 87.7°C. (A dough thermometer takes the guesswork out of this.)
8) When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dog Liver Treats

Why do dogs love liver so much? My dogs go crazy over these treats (from AllRecipes) and they're so easy to prepare. The internet has a lot of recipes for pet treats but the ingredients mostly include cheese or peanut butter. I remember reading somewhere that nuts are not good for dogs, though I might be mistaken. Nevertheless, I decided to avoid recipes with nuts to be on the safe side.

- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 pounds beef liver, cut into pieces

1) Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
2) Place the liver into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. If you have room, add the flour and eggs, and process until smooth. Otherwise, transfer to a bowl, and stir in the flour and eggs using a wooden spoon. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

3) Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is firm. Cool, and cut into squares using a pizza cutter. The treats will have a consistency similar to a sponge. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.