Monday, May 17, 2010

Banana Cream Pie

I am in love with this pie! It is just so good. When I took the pie out of the oven, I thought I would distribute some to my relatives. After we each ate a slice, it was unanimously decided to keep the pie in the refrigerator for our further consumption.

However, it proved far too good to keep the whole pie to ourselves. So when we received visitors, we had to give them a taste of it.

I've been waxing lyrical about the pie to just about everyone who would listen. So here's the recipe, as adapted from House of Annie. I used my own favourite recipe for the crust. I like my pie crust almost sugar free. It goes well with the sweet filling. I won't be posting that yet as I am still tweaking it.

One pie crust dough
~~ -- Pudding -- ~~
1 cups milk
28 grams butter
3/8 cups sugar ; (or less, you can taste the pudding later and if it's not sweet enough, you can add more sugar)
1 1/2 tablespoon All purpose flour ; heaping
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence

1. Preheat oven to 400 F (210 C).

2. Roll out your dough into a round, about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour to keep it from sticking. Place dough round on your pie pan and press into pan and crimp edges to the side of the pan. Dock with a fork all around the crust.

3. Cover with foil or parchment paper and cover with pie weights. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

4. Remove foil/parchment paper and bake for another 10-12 minutes till golden brown.

5. Cool pie crust.

Pudding method:
1. Heat on stove milk and butter over med-low heat in large sauce pan.

2. Mix in another bowl the sugar, flour, salt and yolks. Add to this mixture enough milk from the sauce pan to make a paste.

3. Add paste to milk/butter mixture on stove. Make sure the milk mixture is not too hot when adding the paste or the eggs will curdle. Whisk mixture constantly over med-low heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Do not boil for too long or it will thicken too much.

4. Remove from heat immediately and stir in vanilla essence. Let it cool slightly. If you want a smoother pudding, strain it so that the bits of cooked egg will be strained out.

To assemble banana cream pie:
1. Slice 5-8 bananas (depending on size of bananas) in half length-wise. You can choose to slice them into rounds but I find that the pie slices hold better when you slice in half and lay them in circles around the crust. Cut as needed to fit all the bananas into the bottom of the pie crust.

2. Pour warm pudding over bananas until the bananas are covered and the pudding is almost at the top of the crust.

3. Cool in refrigerator until set, about 2-3 hours.

4. Just before serving, whip some heavy cream with sugar and vanilla. Spread whipped cream over pie.

5. Slice into wedges and enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I came across this recipe in AllRecipes when I was having an bad attack of chocolate craving. These cookies were nice. I used local baking cocoa, which may be why the texture is a tad bit dry. But the recipe wasn't kidding about it being chocolatey!

2 cups All purpose flour
3/4 cup Baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Butter ; or margarine; softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks

1. PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F.

2. COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chunks. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

3. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set but still soft. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Green Pepper, Mushroom and Olive Pizza

We bought a bottle of black olives last weekend and that meant I had to make pizza so that I can have olives as one of the toppings! I always have fun making pizza.

The crust is fun to make though it takes time for the rising for the rising of the bread. It's fun to think of the combination of the pizza topping. The only thing difficult is the grating of the mozzarella. I must be doing it wrong. The cheese is already so soft, it's virtually impossible to grate it. I tend to push it through the grater holes more than grate it.

Nevertheless, the end result is great!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Honeydew Sago Dessert

Whenever my family goes out for a proper 8-course Chinese dinner, I always ask the person who ordered the food whether we will be having cold dessert. Cold desserts are a much better way to end a meal than a hot one, I always think (with the exception of the peanut soup and Chinese pancake dessert). One of my favourite cold desserts is the Honeydew Sago Dessert.

It's a matter of preference the amount of honeydew sago you want in your dessert. This recipe is adapted from House of Annie.

Ingredients :
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Sugar ; or to taste
2 pandan leaves ; shredded and knotted
1 cup sago ; (tapioca pearls)
1 cup Coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 honeydew melon

Make a simple syrup: Put water, sugar and pandan leaves into a small pot and boil till sugar dissolves to make a syrup. Strain and cool.

Boil the sago: Put a big pot of water to boil. When water comes to a boil, add sago to water and cook on med-high heat. Stir occasionally. Sago is done cooking when it looks translucent, about 8-10 mins. Caution: Don't overcook the sago as it can become a sticky mess. Better to have a few pearls that have not turned translucent than to have a glop of melting sago.

Cut and blend the melon: While sago is cooking, cut 3/4 of the 3/4 melon into chunks. Place honeydew chunks in blender and buzz in your blender till smooth. Dice the remaining quarter of the melon into small ½ inch cubes or use a melon baller.

Rinse the sago: As soon as sago is done, pour it out into a fine-mesh colander and rinse with cold water.

Make coconut mixture: Add salt to coconut milk, to taste. Set aside.

Assemble the dish: Put the melon cubes and the melon juice together into a large bowl. Add the coconut milk. Followed by the cooled sago. Pour in the sugar syrup little by little, to adjust the sweetness.

Chill. To serve, scoop into individual bowls and add ice cubes or ice shavings.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Japanese Tofu and Vegetables

This is such a terrifically flavourful dish. It will definitely be part of my meal rotation. The next time, I would probably not add the chicken strips. The dish is good with just tofu and vegetables.

This recipe is adapted from Kuali and serves 4.

1 packet Japanese tofu ; cut into 1.5cm pieces
Tapioca flour ; for coating
1 teaspoon Garlic ; chopped
1/2 teaspoon Ginger ; chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
100 grams chicken meat ; steamed and shredded
2 pieces Chinese black mushrooms ; soaked and sliced thinly
25 grams frozen green peas ;
25 grams carrots ; diced
~~ -- Seasoning -- ~~
1/2 cup water
3/4 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Shao Hsing Hua Tiau wine ; (optional)
1 teaspoon chicken stock granules
~~ -- Thickening -- ~~
1 tablespoon corn flour
2 tablespoons water

Coat sliced tofu pieces in tapioca flour. Deep fry in hot oil until golden. Dish out and drain on absorbent kitchen paper towels.

Heat oil and sesame oil in a wok; saute ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add black mushrooms and carrots. Stir-fry well. Add seasoning, green peas and chicken meat. Blend in thickening. Add tofu pieces. Give it a good stir and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sticky Date Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

I did not use Esther's recipes as I did not want to use suet. I searched the web and came across this pudding by The Pudding Club which used steaming as well. I've never taken Sticky Date Pudding so I'm unsure of the texture. The one I made had a very fine crumb and it was slightly on the dry side (I have a feeling puddings are supposed to be wetter). However, it tasted great and went terrifically with the caramel sauce.


45g margerine

45g light brown sugar

75g dates, chopped

100ml hot water

180g Plain Flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

¾ teaspoon vanilla essence

1 egg

~~ Sauce ~~

15g butter

60g mixed dark & light brown sugar

65ml double cream

Melt sauce ingredients together and put in to the base of a greased 1.1litre pudding bowl.

Put chopped dates in the hot water, add baking powder, vanilla essence and bicarbonate of soda, leave to soak for 10 minutes.

Cream together margarine and sugars, beat in the egg gradually. Add dates, water and flour and mix well (the mixture will be very liquid).

Pour mixture on to the sauce, cover and steam for 1.5 hours.

The sauce and sponge mixture mix together during cooking.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Assam Fish Curry

My grandmother used to use this Assam Fish Curry as a the soup base for her Laksa. I never could quite take to it. I prefer the Laksa my dad makes. However, the Assam Fish Curry goes terrifically with white or brown rice.

I adapted this recipe from Kuali. Serves 8.

1 kilogram mackerel ;
250 grams ladies fingers
1 Tomato ; quartered
3 sprigs polygonum leaves ; (daun kesum)
4 tablespoons tamarind paste ; mixed with
500 mililiters Water
1 wild ginger bud ; halve and smash stem
2 pieces dried tamarind skin
5 tablespoons oil
~~ -- Ground Ingredients -- ~~
12 shallots
8 fresh red chillies
4 slices Galangal
1 cm fresh turmeric
2 cm square belacan ; toasted
2 stalks Lemongrass
~~ -- Seasoning -- ~~
3/4 teaspoon salt ; or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar ; or to taste

Heat oil in a deep saucepan and sauté ground ingredients and wild ginger bud halves and polygonum leaves until aromatic and the oil rises.

Add asam jawa juice and bring to the boil. Add ladies fingers, dried tamarind skin and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Put in mackerel and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomato and adjust seasoning to taste. Dish out and serve with hot plain rice immediately.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Broccoli and Mushroom Pasta

This is a rather simple dish but oh so yummy. I used whole wheat fusilli and I prefer its nuttier crunch to plain white pasta.

This recipe serves 3.

2 cups broccoli florets
1/8 cup olive oil
114 grams shiitake mushrooms ; sliced
3 large garlic cloves ; minced
3/8 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme ; crumbled
128 grams fusilli ; freshly cooked
Salt ; to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper ; to taste
3/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan ; (or enough to sprinkle)
Fresh parsley

Steam broccoli florets until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes (to check). Rinse under cold water. Drain.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until mushrooms are almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Add cream and thyme and bring to boil. Add pasta and broccoli and cook until pasta is coated, tossing gently, about 3 minutes.

Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan and garnish with parsley.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicken Cacciotore

This is definitely a dish I will try again. The chicken was flavourful and very tender.

This recipe serves 4.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves ; (4 oz ea)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely-chopped onions
1 large green pepper ; chopped
4 garlic cloves ; minced
3/4 cup dry red wine
3 fresh tomatoes ; chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley ; (optional)

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Lightly spray a large skillet with olive oil no-stick spray. Add the oil and heat the skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook about 4 minutes on each side or until browned.

Add the onions and green peppers to the skillet. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic. Cook and stir about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine, tomatoes, oregano and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. To add water if it seems to dry up too much.

If desired, sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Serve over toast, hot rice or fettucini or with mashed potatoes.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I had great success with the
Parisian Bagels but Peter Reinhart is very respected in the baking community so when The Kitchn posted a recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads by Peter Reinhart, I had to try it out.

The bagels were delicious! Peter Reinhart's bagels have a softer dough which is much more difficult to shape compared to the Parisian Bagels but the taste and flavour of the bagels more than made up for their appearance.

This recipe is adapted and makes 6 to 8 bagels.

1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon (0.11 oz / 3 g) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons (0.37 oz / 10.5 g) salt, or 21/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz / 255 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
3 1/2 cups (16 oz / 454 g) unbleached bread flour

Poaching Liquid
2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) water
1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) honey (optional)
1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Do Ahead
To make the dough, stir the malt syrup, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water. Place the flour into a mixing bowl and pour in the malt syrup mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook and mix on the lowest speed for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large, sturdy spoon and stir for about 3 minutes, until well blended. The dough should form a stiff, coarse ball, and the flour should be fully hydrated; if it isn’t, stir in a little more water. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Resume mixing with the dough hook on the lowest speed for another 3 minutes or transfer to a very lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop the gluten. The dough should be stiff yet supple, with a satiny, barely tacky feel. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, mix or knead in a little more flour.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

When you’re ready to shape the bagels, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then misting it with spray oil or lightly coating it with oil. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a loose ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand. (Don’t use any flour on the work surface. If the dough slides around and won’t ball up, wipe the surface with a damp paper towel and try again; the slight bit of moisture will provide enough traction for the dough to form into a ball.)

Place each shaped bagel on the prepared sheet pan, then mist with spray oil or brush with a light coating of oil. Cover the entire pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. (You can also proof the full piece of dough in the oiled bowl overnight and then shape the bagels on baking day, 60 to 90 minutes before boiling and baking them, or as soon as they pass the float test.)

On Baking Day
Remove the bagels from the refrigerator 60 to 90 minutes before you plan to bake them, and if you plan to top them with dried onion or garlic, rehydrate those ingredients (see the variations on page 78). Immediately check whether the bagels are ready for baking using the “float test”: Place one of the bagels in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks and doesn’t float back to the surface, shake it off, return it to the pan, and wait for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test it again. When one bagel passes the float test, they’re all ready to be boiled. If they pass the float test before you are ready to boil and bake them, return them to the refrigerator so they don’t overproof. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and gather and prepare your garnishes (seeds, onions, garlic, and so on).

To make the poaching liquid, fill a pot with 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the honey, baking soda, and salt.

Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid, adding as many as will comfortably fit in the pot. They should all float to the surface within 15 seconds. After 1 minute, use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30 to 60 seconds, then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up. (It’s important that the parchment paper be lightly oiled, or the paper will glue itself to the dough as the bagels bake.) Sprinkle on a generous amount of whatever toppings you like as soon as the bagels come out of the water (except cinnamon sugar; see the variation on page 78 for details). Transfer the pan of bagels to the oven, then lower the oven heat to 450°F (232°C).

Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and check the underside of the bagels. If they’re getting too dark, place another pan under the baking sheet. (Doubling the pan will insulate the first baking sheet.) Bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, until the bagels are a golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Curry Chicken with Dhall

Here's another recipe for curry.

1 Chicken ; (cut into 8 pieces)
1 1/2 cups dhall ; (washed and drained; and soaked at least 4 hours)
1 pint Water ;
2 potatoes ; (skinned and minced)
2 Brinjal ; (skinned and minced)
1 teaspoon Turmeric
2 tablespoon Chicken curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon Cooking oil
~~ -- Pounded Ingredients -- ~~
3 Red chillies
3 dried chillies
1 (2-in) Ginger
10 small Onion
6 cloves Garlic
1 (1-in) Lengkuas

1. Pour water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Put in dhall, turmeric powder, curry powder and salt. Continue to boil.

2. Heat oil and fry pounded ingredients till a film of oil forms on the surface. Stir well into the boiling dhall.

3. Add chicken pieces, potatoes and brinjals. Cook until dhall and chicken pieces are tender. Season well. Dish up and serve hot.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Muar Chee

Muar Chee is a popular street snack commonly found in Penang. It is basically glutinous rice balls smothered in peanuts, sugar and sesame seeds.

It is really easy to make at home. Just make sure you have a good processor to grind the peanuts. This recipe is adapted from Rasa Malaysia and serves about 5 people.

113 grams glutinous rice flour
1 tablespoons tapioca flour
3/4 cup water
some Cooking oil ; (for greasing)
Fried shallot crisps
~~ -- Roasted Peanuts Mixture -- ~~
57 grams ground roasted peanuts ;
57 grams sugar ;
28 grams sesame seeds ; (lightly toasted)

Mix the glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour with water to form a batter. Transfer the batter into a greased pan. Steamed over high heat for 10-15 minutes until the glutinous rice paste is completely cooked through in the center. Let cool, covered to prevent it from drying out.

In a deep dish, mix the ground roasted peanuts, sugar, and sesame seeds well. Cut a small piece of the rice paste using a oiled plastic knife. Drop it into the mixture and start cutting the rice paste into smaller cubes. Coat well with the mixture, dish out and serve immediately with some fried shallot crisps.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Curry Kapitan

I love all types of curries. One of my favourites is a Nyonya curry which is drier than most curries but bursting with flavour.

One thing to note: do try to get the spice paste as fine as you can. I adapted this recipe from Rasa Malaysia.

340 grams boneless chicken thigh and/or breast ; (cut into small cubes/pieces)
1 lemon grass ; (cut into 4-inch lengths, use only the white part, pounded)
4 piece kaffir lime leaves
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
Salt ; to taste
~~ -- Spice Paste -- ~~
3/4 inch galangal
114 grams fresh red chili ; (seeded and sliced)
2 1/2 shallots ; (sliced)
1/2 inch Ginger
3 candlenuts ; (soaked in warm water)
1/4 inch fresh turmeric
1/8 teaspoon belacan ; (fermented shrimp paste)

1. Blend all spice paste ingredients to a very fine paste.

2. Heat up some cooking oil in a work and stir-fry paste until aromatic or a thin layer of oil rises to the top.

3. Add chicken and continue stirring until it''s almost cooked.

4. Add the coconut milk and the rest of the ingredients and continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, over low heat.

5. Add salt to taste and serve hot.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

This dessert was pretty time consuming. I split up the recipe and completed the dessert in 3 days. Taken apart, it is not difficult to make. I had no problems with any of it and the final dessert was very pretty and tasted good.

For the Pate Sablee

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams

Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade:

Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

For the Caramel:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

For the Whipped Cream:

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon

In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hot Lemon Souffle

Souffle is another dish I have not tried. All I know of it is that it is very very light in texture. I had some lemons I wanted to use up so I decided to make lemon souffle. It is not a very difficult dish to make. However, I used larger ramekins than the ones instructed in the recipe so it did not rise above the rim. It was slightly too sweet but I suppose you do need to add a lot sugar to lessen the sourness of lemons.

113 grams Unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons finely-minced lemon peel
4 large eggs ; separated

Butter six 3/4-cup ramekins; dust with sugar. Melt 1/2 cup butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add sugar and stir until mixture is opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and lemon peel. Whisk in yolks very slowly and temper first. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and thermometer registers 160°F, whisking constantly, about 12 minutes (do not boil). Transfer mixture to large bowl and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of beaten egg whites into lemon mixture to lighten. Fold remaining beaten egg whites into lemon mixture.

Divide soufflé mixture among prepared ramekins. Place filled ramekins in large roasting pan. Fill pan with enough hot water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake soufflés until golden brown on top, about 14 minutes. Using tongs as aid, remove soufflés from water and serve immediately.

This recipe yields 6 servings.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chicken Liver Dog Biscuits

You would think dogs eat everything. I thought so until my dog came along. She is rather picky when it comes to food. She loves the beef liver treats I make for her so when I came across this recipe, I thought chicken liver might be safe too.

The difference is that with this recipe, the main ingredient is flour with a smattering of liver. My dog would pick out the liver and more often that not, leave the rest of the biscuit. Luckily I have another dog who typically eats everything. So she cleans up after the first dog!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rice flour ; or oat flour
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup Chicken broth
1 cup Liver ; cooked and chopped

Mix the flours and parsley together in a bowl then blend all the wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet while mixing. After it is well blended, fold in the liver.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead a few times. Roll out about 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch depending on the size of your dog’s mouth and cut into shapes or just plain cut into rectangles.

Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or till firm.

Store in the fridge or freezer.

Makes about 40 of the star shape.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' Challenge: Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I had such fun with this month's challenge. It's almost fool-proof. Here are tips I can give you in making risotto, based on my own experience:
1) Have all ingredients ready.
2) After the wine has evaporated, lower the temperature and add chicken broth.
3) Once the rice (if substituting with calrose) is almost cooked, add the chicken broth very slowly as the rice will not be able to absorb a lot more of the broth.

I did have someone tell me that if I substitute calrose for arborio, it is technically not risotto. However, I had calrose in the house and wanted to finish it off. I think the major difference is calrose cooks up less firm compared to arborio. But it was still a terrifically flavourful dish. I made a chicken and broccoli risotto the first time; the second time, I made a caramelised onion risotto and added lap cheong (Chinese sausage) which was much better.

Chicken Stock

1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg
chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg
2 onions, roughly diced
1 medium leek - white part only, roughly diced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn't matter.)
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. allspice


  1. Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil
  2. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface
  3. Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil
  4. Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
  5. Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!
  6. Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters
  7. Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don't need for later use.

Risotto Base

olive oil 2 fluid oz 60 ml
1 small onion, quatered
rice 14 oz 400g
Any type of risotto rice will do. I use Arborio but the recipe itself says Vialone Nano. Another to look for is Carnaroli.
white wine 2 fl oz 60 ml
chicken or vegetable stock , simmering 2 pints 1 L


  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
  2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
  3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
  5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
  6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 100 ml. of stock for the final step. .
  7. Repeat, save 100ml for the final stage.
  8. Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Low-Fat Banana Bread

I love oats. I put it in my morning coffee, make it for breakfast or lunch with bananas, put it in my yogurt; most of all, I love adding it to anything I'm baking, especially bread.

This recipe is pretty good. It was quite dry which I liked. Most banana breads taste too much like banana cakes to me.

This recipe makes 1 loaf.

1 1/4 cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup Brown sugar ; packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons Canola Oil ; or walnut oil
1 large egg ; beaten
2 medium Egg white ; beaten
3 large bananas ; ripe
1 cup Oats ; uncooked

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients including the oats and cinnamon.

In a smaller bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add oil and whole egg and mix thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Batter will be fairly thick.

In a medium sized bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions.

Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes. Slice loaf into 10 equally sized slices.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Tiramisu

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Okay. I'm a bit tickled with the result of this month's baking for The Daring Kitchen group. I really wanted to make Tiramisu and so was glad of a recipe (from scratch, what's more!) that has been tried by a few people. Here are the things which went wrong:

1. My mascarpone cheese turned out to be a hard blob of frozen cream. I later found out the cream I used was UHT. This is not an excuse though as it has been repeated in the forum of The Daring Kitchen to NOT use UHT cream. Yikes!
2. I over-whipped the cream and turned it into butter.

So, have a look at the slice of tiramisu above. It looks nothing like it. But amazingly, it tasted fantastic! Sure, the fingers were not as moist as they should be and instead of soft airy cream, I could actually slice cleanly through the tiramisu but presentation aside, I really believe the taste is where the proof of a good recipe is.

I was proud enough of it to gift a few slices to some relatives, however much my sister protested!


(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,


Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oatmeal Bread

The first time I attempted to make this bread, it turned out tough with a really thick crust. When I recently made it again, it baked beautifully. Thin crackly crust with the softest texture inside. The difference was the dough. When I started making bread, I liked my dough to be not sticky at all. So I smothered it with flour until it no longer sticks to my fingers. However, I recently discovered the stickier the dough, the lighter the bread.

I was extremely pleased with how this bread turned out. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the source of the recipe and am unable to link it back to that website (Apologies to the author of this excellent recipe).

This recipe serves 4.

1 cup Water
1/2 cup Quick oats ; or coarsely chopped rolled oats
10 grams Butter
2 teaspoon Instant yeast ; scant
1/4 cup Warm water ; 38C to 43C
2 1/2 tablespoon Brown sugar ; firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups All purpose flour

1) Cook oats in 1 cup water according to package directions. Remove from heat and stir in butter, brown sugar and salt. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

2) Mix yeast, oats and flour in a bowl. Add in water slowly until the dough starts to come away from the side of the bowl (try kneading without water first). Dough is very shaggy and sticky. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in a well greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3) Turn dough out and gently shape into a round loaf. Place dough on a baking sheet and let rise for 30 - 45 minutes. Slash top of the loaf as desired.

4) Preheat oven to 191°C.

5) Bake at 191°C for 40 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool almost completely before serving.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I recently tried a dish I've never had before in a Nyonya restaurant. It was called pongteh and it had the most delicious flavour. It's not very attractive to look, being all dark and the meat hardly discernible from the mushrooms or even the potatoes; but oh, the flavour! This dish (and the following recipe) is definitely a must-try in my book.

The recipe is adapted from Kuali and serves 4.

300 grams chicken
300 grams belly pork ; (optional)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
200 grams shallot paste ; (from about 20 shallots)
1/2 tablespoon garlic paste ; (from 3 cloves garlic)
1 tablespoons preserved bean paste ; (tau cheo)
5 dried shiitake mushrooms ; soaked and quartered
400 mililiters Water
1 1/2 potatoes ; peeled and quartered
125 grams yambean ; (jicama), cut as desired
30 grams palm sugar ; (gula Melaka), or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt ; or to taste

Cut the chicken into pieces; cut the pork into 2cm-thick slices.

Heat the oil to sauté the shallot and garlic paste until fragrant, stirring continuously. Add the bean paste and fry until the oil starts to separate.

Add the pork if using and fry for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes before adding chicken. Continue simmering until chicken and pork are tender, adding the potatoes and yambean half way through. Add more water if gravy becomes too thick. Season to taste with sugar and salt. Serve with sambal belacan.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' Challenge: Mezze

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

I was terribly excited about this month's challenge. I love bread and I've been wanting to make hummus for some time. Unfortunately I couldn't find tahini in my local supermarket. So I substituted peanut butter for it. As a result, although the hummus was delicious, it did taste very strongly of peanut butter (I may have been a bit heavy handed while adding it).

I will make my own tahini the next time I need it for hummus; just to taste how authentic hummus should be.

Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)

1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste

1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Cucumber Raita – Recipe adapted from The Indian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm
Prep time: Approximately 15 minutes

1 medium cucumber, peeled and most of the seeds removed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (.1 ounce/3 grams) OR use a small pinch of dried cumin—to taste
2 cups plain whole milk or Greek yogurt (17 ounces/473ml)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
fresh coriander or mint, chopped, a couple pinches or more to taste
cayenne pepper or paprika, just a pinch to use as a garnish (optional)

1. Peel cucumber, de-seed, and dice. Blot off moisture with paper towels.
2. Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small, heavy frying pan over high heat.
3. In a bowl, stir yogurt until it is smooth.
4. Mix it with the cumin, garlic and coriander or mint leaves (I used some grated radish instead).
5. Stir in the cucumber and sprinkle with cayenne or paprika, and chill before serving.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Miso Soup

Apart from Cawanmushi, miso soup is often a part of the Japanese bento meal. There are plenty of instant miso soup packets but really, I got to try making one from scratch some day. It's part of the fun of cooking!

As with Cawanmushi, miso soup is very easy to whip up, is very versatile and almost fool-proof. The following recipe serves 5.

Ingredients :
30 Tofu ; (half-inch cubes)
4 mushrooms ; sliced
1/4 cup dried seaweed ; (wakame)
4 cups water
2 teaspoons dashi (nomoto)
3 tablespoons miso

Soften seaweed in lukewarm water. Boil 4 cups of water and dashi. Add tofu and mushrooms and seaweed, simmer gently about 3 minutes. Add miso and dissolve completely. Immediately turn off the heat and serve.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Chawanmushi is a great way to add eggs to your diet. Plus it's so simple to make. You can add as much ingredients as you like or as little if you prefer more egg.

This recipe is adapted from here and serves 4.

3 Large Eggs ; very lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Mirin
1 teaspoon Japanese Soy Sauce
2 cups dashi stock
12 prawns ; (shelled and deveined) OR
Chicken ; cubed
8 Gingko Nuts
2 Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms ; sliced (or whole if small)
12 slices Japanese Fish Cake ; thinly sliced

Mix the beaten eggs with mirin, soy sauce and the dashi stock. Strain and set aside.

Divide the rest of the ingredients into 4 small bowls and pour in the egg mixtures. Cover the bowl with a small sheet of tin foil.

Steam the egg mixture on a high heat for about 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and steam for another 15 minutes or until they are set. Serve immediately.