Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday's Breakfast: Incredibly Soft Honey Walnut & Golden Raisin Whole-Wheat Bread

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
What I baked for breakfast today, the Incredibly Soft Honey Walnut & Golden Raisin Whole-Wheat Bread.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Taste of Four Sugars (Low-Fat Cranberry Spice Bread)

* Healthy
* Low-Fat
* Easy
* Quick
* Great-tasting!
With the above descriptions of this recipe that I saw recently, I don't need further reasons to try my hands in baking this. And since I have a packet of frozen dried cranberries on hand, and in line with this weekend's theme on "healthy baking", I set about making this quick bread.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
It was indeed fast and simple to assemble everything together before popping it into the oven. I followed the recipe closely except for the following:
1) I didn't have buttermilk so I made my own using low-fat milk with white vinegar.
2) As mentioned earlier, I used frozen cranberries instead of fresh ones.
3) Unknowingly, I managed to amassed quite a variety of sugars. Since the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar, I used 1/4c each of white sugar, brown sugar, demerara sugar and organic molasses sugar, hence the title of this post.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I like the bread. It is just like as described by Nic of BakingSheet, I quote,
"The bread is a bit sturdy and holds up well to toasting. It's not overly sweet, but provides a great backdrop for the bright, tart cranberries. The spices are mild, to enhance the flavor of the berries and the buttermilk without overwhelming the loaf."
Having said that, I found that bread tasted even better after keeping it wrapped for a day.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Let's Get Healthy (Tau Suan)

I have been overly indulging in too much rich food lately. To spare myself any further guilt trip, I decided to go healthy this weekend by making not-so-sinful stuff.

So today, it's just plain but good ol' Tau Suan tongshui (Split Mung Beans Sweet Soup). To be honest, I only had my first taste of this tongshui early this year. Although my mom cooks a variety of chinese tongshui, for some reason she had never made this before. Well, I guess I will be the first person to cook this tongshui for my family.

Being a fan of almost all non-coconut milk based tongshui, naturally I love this too. Best served with sliced crispy yau char kwai (chinese crullers) like in the picture below.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I followed Jas' recipe here. The only change I made was to add 2 pieces of dried mandarin peels to the soup. However, I find it slightly too sweet for my liking so I would reduce the rock sugar by about 20g to 30g next time.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Coconut Blueberry Slices

A colleague of mine recently gave me a small jar of "non-boiled" blueberry jam. When I saw this recipe, I immediately thought of using it to make Coconut Bluberry Slices with the blueberry jam. To try it out, I halved the recipe. Quite fast and easy to make. Taste rather good too!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Before slicing. See the blueberry jam oozing out from the corner?
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sliced. Yummy, I like.....!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Opening BBM3 Treasure Chest

Continuing from my previous post on BBM3...
It was exciting to participate in my first “BBM” or “Blogging By Mail” event. The theme for BBM3 is “Home For The Holidays”. I had a great time in preparing my package to be sent to my partner in Southern California. It was equally as exciting to receive a package from my “secret santa”, Niki who hails from Australia (co-incidentally, I spent my university days there and I love the country to bits).
Opening Niki’s package was like opening my first ever Christmas present; not to mention that it brought back many wonderful memories of my stay in Sydney as an university student. Niki did an outstanding job in preparing this fantastic package to me. Here’s what it contained:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Vegemite-In-A-Biskit Biscuits
During my university days in Sydney, my flat-mate was obsessed with this strange and mysterious Vegemite that almost every Australian that I know seems to be crazy about. I wasn’t so keen then. But I love “Chicken-In-A-Biskit so I already knew that this wouldn’t be bad. It was far from bad, almost enough to convert me to become a Vegemite fan.

Bountiful Chocolates
Niki must have a sixth sense. I LOVE VIOLET CRUMBLE! Used to gorge on this almost every other day while studying in Sydney. And Niki was kind enough to include a large bar of this (*grin*) together with another large bar of Cherry Ripe chocolate bar. In addition, there are also some Caramello Koala chocolate treats, a mini Santa Claus chocolate made by Melbourne’s Ernest Hillier Chocolates as well as Wizz Fizz Sherbert for the kids at home (my nephews and niece). I am so touched by this generous gesture.

A packet of dried spice mix of Australian native herbs and spices such as Dorrigo Pepper among others. I will definitely post my experiment in using this.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Australian-themed Christmas Pudding by Heritage that has unique Australian ingredients such as Tasmanian Leatherwood honey and lemon myrtle. Although dying to try it, I shall save this till Christmas to make it even more special.

Pavlova Magic Instant-Dessert Mix
This comes in the cutest egg-shell packaging. The instructions sound simple enough for an amateur baker like myself. Another great dessert idea for Christmas. Do stay tuned for how this turns out soon!

Plum & Nectarine Jam
Not forgetting also a jar of home-made Plum & Nectarine Jam made with fruits from Niki’s grandmother’s very own orchard. I wasted no time in tasting it this morning for breakfast and it was every bit as good as I expected it to be. Thanks so much!

Home-Baked ANZAC Cookies
Upon opening the package, I could already smell something delicious with hints of warm spices. And I was right. I was delighted to discover a box of the most delicious ANZAC cookies that I have ever come across. I first tasted these during (surprise!surprise!) my uni days in Sydney and remembered them as being chewy and delicious, but certainly not as delicious as these ones by Niki. And furthermore, there’s a great history behind these cookies too!
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

In addition, Niki also shared with me how a typical Christmas Day is like for her and her family (I was almost salivating from reading descriptions of all the food being served on that day). Also included is a recipe for Orange, Cardamom & Brandy Biscuits (her gift cookies of choice for this year's Christmas) and a sweet Christmas card (my first for this year). I enjoyed reading every word of her letter too (Niki, don’t worry about not hand-writing it, I didn’t hand-write mine too…).
Wait..! There’s more to this almost bottomless treasure chest. Included is a copy of a newpaper pull-out on food & wine from her local daily, The Age and also a copy of Donna Hay magazine. Hurray! My first copy of DH magazine. I have heard and read so much about DH and I will surely enjoy pondering over every article and recipe in this magazine.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I hope you can guess by now that I have become an extremely HAPPY person. And I am sure the glee from opening this wonderful package would last me through to the next BBM event. And thank you so much Niki, for bringing so much joy to me! ;-)

Note: Click on title for link to the round-up of BBM3

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BBM3: Package Arrived!

Ooh, I am so excited. My first "Blogging By Mail" package had just arrived from the lovely Niki of Esurientes all the way from "The Land Down Under". The contents are simply awesome! Here's a sneak peak of this fabulous package. More to follow soon.....
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Thank you "so very much", Niki; and to Cathy as well for organizing this great "BBM3 - Home For The Holidays" event!

Here's another teaser; what I had for breakfast today. None other than Niki's home-made Plum & Nectarine Jam on thick toasts (made by yours truly of course). Yum...What a great way to start a brand new day...
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday's Breakfast: Cheese & Raisin Sugar Loaf

Bought a block of cheddar cheese on sale so I decided to bake Cheese & Raisin Sugar Loaf for breakfast today.
Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.com

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Quick Tea-Time Snacks (Sausage Bread Tart & Microwave Potato Chips)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Quick and easy tea-time treats for the little ones at home. Each of them can be done in no time and is "yummy-licious".

Sausage Bread Tart
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Use day-old bread (those with skins work better, e.g., top and bottom slice). Roll them flat. Put a rice bowl on it and cut away the edges. Roll them flat again if necessary. Butter a muffin pan. Stuff the bread into the muffin pan so that it resembles a cup/tart. Bake in oven on moderate temperature for about 10 minutes or lightly browned. Remove from oven and butter the inside of the bread/tart. Mix some sliced sausages with mayonaise or sandwich spread and some dried parsley flakes. Add some into each tart. Re-bake them for another 5 minutes. Remove individual tarts from pan and trim away dark edges if necessary.

Microwave Potato Chips
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Good and fat-free. The little ones gave their thumbs-up too! So much more healthier than regular french fries.
Spray a casserole dish with some non-fat cooking spray. Slice potato thinly (unpeeled) and arrange them on the dish. Microwave them on HIGH for about 8-10 minutes or until they turn crispy. Check to make sure that they are not burned though. Toss with a little salt, coarse black pepper and dried parsley. Serve. You can substitute with sweet potato if wished.

Click on titles for link to original recipes.

Ideas for Breakfasts (Kueh Kosui & Red Dates Bread)

A belated posting and pics of what I have baked/made for breakfasts recently.

Kueh Kosui
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Chinese Red Dates Bread
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Saturday, November 19, 2005

All About Chocolates! (Chocolate Zucchini Cake & Double Choc Mint Cookies)

What a boring Saturday evening. It's raining cats & dogs outside. Seriously, what a heavy downpour. It's as if somebody is pouring buckets of water, one after another. *Sigh* Looks like I won't be able to go anywhere for a while. So what's the cure for a miserable Saturday evening? Chocolates, of course!

So I set about baking not one, but two chocolate treats, just in case I need a double-dose to douse my dampening moods. Here's what I picked:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Chocolate & Zucchini Cake (courtesy of none other than Clotilde of "Chocolate of Zucchini")
Ah, what an ingenious combination. I love chocolates and zucchini is one of my favourite vege (seriously!). In addiditon to being "not really fattening", I changed the recipe to include some of my favouite ingredients such as demerara sugar, organic molasses sugar, Japanese cucumber (much more economical than zucchini at this point of time) and semi-sweet Belgian chocolate chunks.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The end result? Maybe it's due to the changes that I made to the recipe but I would say that this is an "adult" cake. Being slightly bitter-sweet, my nephew took one bite of it and complained that it was too bitter. But I think I like it this way. And I think the cake is complex in a way. The taste takes a while to develope and it grows on you. I reckon that not everyone would agree to the taste of this cake; not me though.

Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies
I wanted to use my new EXOPAT baking mat and I also wanted to try this particular recipe for crunchy chocolate chip cookies. I thought since I was at it, why not make it a double chocolate chip & mint cookies, in honour of my new-found favourite chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately, the thing that usually happens when I bake cookies happened again. The cookies browned too fast (either that or my oven temperature was way off) resulting in some burnt bits. One minute, the was a delicious aroma coming out from my kitchen and the next, whiffs of burnt food interlaced with the delicious aroma! Luckily, I managed to savage the cookies although it meant performing some "plastic surgery" (i.e., scrapping off the burnt bits at the bottom). And the cookies? They were dark, chocolatey, minty and crunchy. Nice but not quite close to my favourite though...
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Oh well, at least my Saturday evening is turning to be not quite as dreary as I feared it would be.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mighty Daifukus!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I like daifuku or Japanese mochi (chewy glutinous rice cake usually stuffed with a sweet filling). Been wanting to try this since I first saw the recipe but never quite got around to it (kept forgetting). Anyhow, when I received a packet of Japanese glutinous rice flour (ideal for making daifuku) from the lovely Gina, I knew it was definitely time to act! And I am glad that I did. It was easy and fast (by using the microwave). It was done in under 10 minutes. I did mine in 2 flavours, plain red bean paste and plain mung bean paste (as pictured above).
A note though... Just be careful when handling the hot dough when it was just out from the microwave. Use 2 spoons dipped in corn flour as suggested in the recipe. I was using one spoon and when the hot and sticky dough got stucked to the spoon, without thinking I used my finger to try to wipe it off. You can guess what happened next. For a short while, I thought I suffered some first-degree burn....
Anyway, back to the daifukus. These are really good. So soft and chewy. If you can't finish them in one go, you can keep them in the fridge. Before serving, just zap them in the microwave for about 5-8 seconds and they will be just as soft as when freshly made. Or if you like, you can consume them chilled too, just like how my mom prefers them.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Picture of Japanese Glutinous Rice Flour

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Baker's Shopping

Thanks to "masak-masak", I chanced upon this site and discovered to my delight, many interesting cooking/baking supplies and gadgets such as Varlhona chocolates, vanilla pods (quite a bargain), EXOPAT (Silpat in the US) and Microplane® graters. Without much hesitation, I placed an order with them. Here's what I bought:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
EXOPAT baking sheet (this costs a bomb but I have been wanting this since I read the raves and saw it on Amazon which unfortunately does not ship this product internationally);
A packet of 5 vanilla pods;
Varlhona Chocolates (GUANAJA - The Bitter Dark Valrhona Chocolate Grand Cru of Dark Chocolate from South America - 70% cocoa; MANJARI - The Fruity Dark Valrhona Grand Cru chocolate from the Indian Ocean with 64% cocoa with orange zest; and MANJARI buttons),

Service was prompt, my only complaint is that their area of coverage under "free delivery" for orders exceeding RM150.00 does not extend to greater parts of Klang Valley, namely PJ area. :(

Monday, November 14, 2005

Monday's Breakfast: Pandan Raisin Buns

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
For today's breakfast, Pandan Raisin Buns with Crumble toppings (yet another recipe from Alex Goh's "World of Bread"). Basically a sweet bun recipe that uses raisins, coconut milk and pandan juice/paste. I used pandan paste that also contains colouring, hence the slightly garish-looking green colour. But otherwise, it is still nice.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In The Mood for Orange (Orange Poppy Seed Butter Cake)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
After reading this post in "She Bakes and She Cooks", I felt like baking a Orange Poppy Seed Butter Cake too. Recently, I bought 2 small bottles of orange oil and lemon oil so this would be a good opportunity to utilize at least one of them.
However, as I only had a little less than an hour, I took a short-cut. Here's the recipe:

Easy Orange Poppy Seed Butter Cake
- 250g butter cake mix (is possible, try to buy from a reputable baking supplies shop instead of getting a commerial brand one)
- 125g butter, unsalted (slightly softened)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp + 2.5 tsp orange juice
- 1/2tsp orange oil (or you can just use 3 tbsp orange juice + 1/2 tsp orange zest)
- approx. 2-3 tbsp poppy seeds (or as much as you like)
1. Preheat oven at 170-175c. Grease a 7-inch square pan.
2. Beat butter and cake mix for about 4 minutes till light and fluffy.
3. Add in eggs one by one, mixing well after each adddition.
4. Add in orange juice, orange oil and poppy seeds. Mix well (but be careful not to over-mix).
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
Optional: Garnish the top with some grated orange zest (long strips) before baking.

I really like the end result. The cake was light and fluffy; the orange flavour is nicely-balanced and not too over-powering (sometimes the case when using orange zest, or at least for "Asian tongues"). Also, the poppy seeds provide a nice crunch to the cake. Definitely worth a try!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Easy Fixes! (Prata Sausage Roll & Easy Garlic Toast)

Wanna make something to good to eat but don't want much hassle? No worries, here are 2 really easy recipes (ingredients for each not exceeding 3), courtesy of Kitchen Capers forum.

1) Prata Sausage Roll
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
All you need are frozen prata (roti canai) sheets (available at any supermarket or mini-mart) and sausages. Thaw the frozen prata for a couple of minutes (but not completely) or until you find that it is easy to roll the sheets without breaking. Place a sausage on it and roll it up. Slash the top a few times with a knife. Then brush the top with some egg wash. Bake in pre-heated oven at 170-180c for 40-45 minutes.
This sausage rolls are really crispy, like a croissant. It loses its crispiness the next day so you may wish to toast it for a while in your toaster-oven, if you still have leftovers the next day.

2) Easy Garlic Toast
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
My nephew Amos, was browsing through my favourite bread recipe book by Alex Goh. He saw the Garlic Bread recipe and asked me when am I going to bake some. It was too late to start from scratch (the recipe uses french baguette, recipe provided of course) so what I did was to slice some sandwich bread, spread the sliced bread with some prepared garlic butter (mix some softened salted butter with some finely crushed and chopped garlic and some dried parsley flakes) toast them and voila!, instant Garlic Toasts.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Cookies Galore!

Recently, I placed an order for cookies with Gina, the moderator of Kitchen Capers forum, which is my "unofficial sifu" when it comes to baking. She is probably the best person to ask about how hopeless and clueless I was when I first got interested in baking. Thanks to her tips and advices, and also from other contributors on the forum, I gradually improved.
Anyway, Gina is known for her many and amazing culinary skills and her Melting Moments cookies as well as Double Chocolate Mint Cookies are reputed to be among her legendary products. :)

I placed an order for each of these. The parcel finally arrived yesterday, much to my delight!
I can see what the rave was all about. The Melting Moments are meltingly soft.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com Image hosted by Photobucket.com
But the real attraction for me was the Double Chocolate Mint Cookies.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I always have a penchance for the combination of chocolate and mint. In fact, one of my all-time favourite ice-cream flavour is Chocolate Chip & Mint. And these cookies taste exactly like the ice-cream, except it is in the form of a crispy cookie. After tasting one, I couldn't pry my fingers away from them! Looks like my plan to diet has to take a temporary backseat. *LOL*
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Do not under-estimate the lure of these innocent-looking cookies. They are seriously IRRESISTABLE and are definitely worth fighting over for. A must if you are a fan of Chocolate Chip & Mint, like me. But don't come asking for any from me; I will be hoarding every single pieces of them.

If you are interested in purchasing these cookies, I am not sure if Gina is still accepting orders for these cookies. You can try your luck by sending her a private message at the forum mentioned above (link provided).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Foodie's Trip: To Melaka, To Malacca

Warning: Lengthy post ahead.
During the recent long Deeparaya break, 2 of my girlfriends and I went on a foodie day-trip to Melaka, armed with some food guide and pieces of advice from fellow friends. Here's a compilation of pictures taken during the trip.
Caution: Do not be alarmed by the amount of food featured. To avoid ourselves from looking like bottomless-pit gluttons, we have to say in our defence that the servings of these food were really small (at least by KL standards). heh-heh

Stop #1: Wilson's ChickenRice
This place was recommended by my friend Karen, who insisted on going there. So off we went. A nice change from the usual Malacca-famous Chicken Rice Ball, the chicken served here was silky smooth. On the sides are (do not scream) deep-fried chicken intestines. Initially squeemish, I took a bite of it and much to my surprise, it wasn't bad. Tasted like crispy fried fritters.
Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by Photobucket.com

Stop #2: Fish Fillet Noodles
The reason we stopped here was because we saw the name "Hee Kiaw Noodles" displayed on the little stall in this little kopitiam.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
We wanted to try the Hee Kiaw Noodles which was said to be only available in Melaka. But only upon ordering, we were told by the stall-operator that it was not Hee Kiaw Noodles but "Yee Wat Noodles" (aka fish fillet noodles). The displayed name was just for "show only" (duh???). Nevertheless, it was still good. The noodles were very "wat" (smooth) and the condiments were just nice. An unexpected discovery of a gem, we would say.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Stop#3: Popiah and Rojak @ Popiah Lwee
We wanted to go to Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. In front of where we parked our car, we saw this shop.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
They sell only popiah and rojak. We ordered a small portion of each.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The popiah was good! It has some leafy vegetables inside (which was pretty uncommon and a first for me, who loves popiahs!).
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Unfortunately, the rojak wasn't as good. Undoubtedly, it was rather spicy (I'm ok with it) and too sweet (not ok with this). Nothing to shout about.
This shop also sells some food knick-knacks. I would recommend the giant Peanut & Sesame Biscuits as well as their Gula Melaka (stored in glass canister). The latter was the most fragrant-smelling palm sugar that I'd come across. I raved about it here.

Stop #4: Famous "Wan Tan" Mee along Jln Tun Tan Cheng Lock
I forgot the name of this place. "Ah Mah-something". This place was featured in a foodie magazine. We went, ate, tried the "special chilli sauce" and didn't swoon. It was ok, but not great.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Stop #5: Cendol along Jonkers St.
There were so many shops selling this famous dessert along this street. We were torn on which to try. At last, we settled on this one. It was situated in the middle of the street. They were a crowd in front of this shop. Aactually, the stalls serving the food were located in front of the shop and it service is self-serve so obviously there is a line of people queuing to buy and get their food, what a clever ploy as crowd draws crowd - if you know what I mean. And naturally, we were attracted by the crowd. We ordered a Durian Cendol and I was disappointed.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The cendol was pretty ordinary. The brown syrup was thick and very sweet. The so-called accompanying durian was just a dollop of what seemed and tasted like a diluted and watery version of durian puree. I much prefer the Tan Kim Hock version. Although commercial, at least it has what seems like chunks of thick durian puree on it.

Stop #6 Hee Kiaw Mee
Finally, we got to try the famed Hee Kiaw Mee. Undaunted by the earlier misunderstanding, Karen called her Malaccan friend and he introduced us to this place. I really do not know how to describe the location of this place. Even now, I am amazed that we managed to find it given the fact that none of us was remotely familiar with Melaka. And how did we find the mee? Well, let's just say that we were more impressed with the Hee Kiaw mee impersonation (see Stop #2).
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Stop #7: Famous Popiah along Jalan Bunga Raya
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Almost every Melaka food guide raves about this street-side stall selling popiah. There is a constant queue and we could honestly understand why. Karen remarked that it reminded her of eating a "char siew wrapped in popiah skin" and that's exactly how I would describe it.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The filling is wet, slightly oily and sweet but it was simply delish! Oh my, it definitely ranked among the top in my favourite popiah list!

Stop #8: Famous Cendol & Rojak along Jalan Bunga Raya
We were told that this is one of the oldest outlet selling cendol in Melaka. We were not surprised. The shop did really looked old and aged. I think the name of the shop is called MinChong or something like that. Somehow, the shop is reputed to serve better rojak than cendol. We ordered both and we agreed with this view.
However, although no-frill and not outstanding, Samantha and I still thought that the cendol tasted good. Karen wasn't impressed though.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Rojak was also no-frill but the combination was simply good! Not too spicy, not too sweet, not too wet nor too dry. Just try it!

Stop #9: FINALE - Seafood Dinner @ Portugese Settlement by the beach
Finally. dusk arrived. It's time for a proper dinner meal. How much more can these 3 girls still eat after an entire day of eating, you may wonder? Here's your answer...
Chicken Dable (not sure if this is the correct speling)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Foil-baked Spicy Otak-otak (this is my favourite dish from the entire dinner meal!)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Stir-fried local vegetables with garlic (too oily...)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Stir-fried Lala in Lemongrass (Samantha's favourite)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Crabs done in "Dry & Spicy version" (Karen's favourite)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Ah..., what bliss....