Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday's Breakfast: Kugelkopf Bread

For breadfast today. Recipe from Alex Goh's World of Bread.
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Sunday, May 28, 2006

More Guiltless Pleasures (Fallen Chocolate Souffle Torte)

If you have read my previous post, you will know that my "quest for guiltless desserts" is far from over. To continue my string of recent success in my "quest", this is another excellent recipe that I have recently discovered. This time, it's from Esurientes , a Fallen Chocolate Souffle Torte recipe by Alice Medrich.

Earlier, I received some Lindt 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate bars from a visiting overseas relative.
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I may be ignorant, but seriously, this is the first time I have seen a 85% cacao dark chocolate bar. I don't think I have seen any here in KL (please let me know if you have seen this anywhere in KL/PJ). And they are truly bitter, so much so that as much as I love dark bitter chocolates, I have to say this this chocolate is not recommended for normal consumption but ideally, for chocolate desserts. Hence, coming to possession of such as "rare" chocolate (at least to me), I really wanted for this dessert to succeed.

Then came my moment of "near-disaster". Everything was going very well. Only when I placed the tin into the oven to bake and was cleaning up the counter, did I see the bowl containing the flour/ground almond mixture. My jaws dropped and in a moment of panic, I was dumbstruck, incapable of moving or even thinking! Then sanity returned, and I quickly took the cake tin back out from the oven, dumped the flour mixture into the batter and at the same time, praying fervently that this cake was not doomed.

So did it end well?
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Low-Fat Fallen Chocolate Souffle Torte
God must have taken pity on me. It went well. Maybe a tad sweeter would make it even better (I guess I underestimated the potency of the 85% cacao choc bar and should have added more sugar, not reduced it).
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Low-Fat Fallen Chocolate Souffle Torte with Chocolate Sauce
But no worries though, I can always have it warmed and then eat it like this....,
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Low-Fat Fallen Chocolate Souffle Torte with Vanilla Ice-cream and Whipped Cream, Drizzled with Chocolate Sauce (Warning: This is no longer "guiltless" though)
Update: This cake tastes better the day after and even more so on the 3rd day if that's possible. You can easily wrap them in foil and freeze them for up to 2 months.

Guiltless Pleasures, or Not (Fuits & Nuts Cake & Oven Baked Fried Chicken Wings)

In my continued quest to look for healthier alternatives and yet, get to indulge in my favourite food (aka desserts in general), I decided to try these 2 fat-free recipes. And I am very glad that I did.

I call this Fruits & Nuts Cake (or so-called Wallpaper Loaf as found here). As mentioned in the recipe, I was initially pretty apprehensive when I prepared the batter. There seems to be less than sufficient batter for the mixture and fruits & nuts. If it wasn't for the pre-warning in the recipe, I would have thought I did something wrong somewhere. Also, I told myself to have confidence in the cake, convinced that I would love the final result. And I did! Very much so. It's just like eating a Fruits (I used a mixture of dried apricots, red dates & golden raisins) & Nuts (toasted walnuts and almonds). Obviously, the cake (un-cut) was far from the prettiest that I'd baked but I have to say, taste-wise, they are one of my favourite! Then again, once sliced, they are quite a sight to behold too.
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Guilt-free Fruits & Nuts Cake

The second recipe is from KC. Another much-raved about recipe. Its novelty lie in the fact that this is basically an oil-free fried chicken wing. How can this be, you may ask. But it is true. Not 1 drop of oil was used. It's simply baked in the oven. Moreover, during baking, more fat were drained out from the chicken (to make it even healthier, if that's possible). Taste-wise, let me just say that they were "fingers-licking-good" (to quote Colonel Sanders) when paired with sweet chili sauce. I walloped 3 in 1 go. And that must surely say something about these delicious morsels.
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Oil-free Oven-baked Fried Chicken Wings

Saturday, May 27, 2006

French Toasts & Cupcakes

Woke up to a lazy Saturday morning. Been out late the night before and had a killer "Espresso Kahlua" cocktail. Usually, consuming caffeine late at night have no effect on me but I will usually be wide awake pretty early the next morning.
Which was why I woke up at 7am (can't sleep no more despite the fact that I don't have to work today) and decided to make breakfast for the family.
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Classic Cinnamon French Toasts served with sprinkles of sugar - yum!

After breakfast, I had some time to kill before going to my usual Saturday gym class. Inspired by recent cupcakes-baking frenzy that I have seen on some of my favourite blogs, I decided to try a cupcake recipe that I have been wanting to try for quite some time. This recipe is said to be from Magnolia, the famous NY bakery most known for its cupcakes. People are known to queue for it the same way how we would queue for say, our favourite rojak sold from a van. Was it any good? Judging on how the kids savoured them, I have to say they must be pretty good! I did get more than a few licks of the buttercream frosting when I was preparing them and I have to say they are pretty addictive! But stay away if you can't tolerate sweetness though.
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"Magnolia's Cupcakes with Creamy & Addictive Frosting"
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The next day, I was left with some un-used buttercream so I made another batch of cup-cakes. This time I made them in mini sizes and used Nigella Lawson's fairy cakes recipe. Very easy and very nice!
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Mini orange cupcakes frosted with strawberry-flavoured buttercream.
Recipe for 9 or 10 mini muffins (based on recipe by Nigella Lawson)
60g soft unsalted butter
60g sugar
1 egg

60g self-raising flour
1/4t orange oil
1-2T milk

Sift flour in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except the milk. Mix with mixer until smooth. Drizzle in milk a little-by-little until batter is of pouring consistency. Pour into lined muffin tins till about 80% full. Bake in pre-heated oven (175c) for 10 mins or until top is golden brown and skewer comes out clean when tested on cakes. Cool completely on rack and frost.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday's Breakfast: Mocha Raisin & Walnut Wholemeal Buns

Nice with a big cup of coffee! Mocha Wholemeal Raisin & Walnut Buns.
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Recipe given by aunty:
310g bread flour + 40g wholemeal flour (sifted)
1/4t salt
1/4t Softpro
9g instant yeast
30g sugar + 20g brown sugar
40g softened butter
1tsp instant coffee diluted in 1/2 cup warm milk
1-2 T cocoa powder
1 egg (lightly beaten)
At the beep for adding fruits & nuts: Add 30g toasted walnuts and about 1/4c of raisins. (Add more or less to suit your taste)
Put everything in the breadmaker machine in order recommended by your breadmachine manual. Knead until dough is eleastic and not sticky. Take out and roll it out into a rectangular shape on a floured surface. Roll into a log shape and cut into 60g portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Cover and let rise until double in size. Brush top with water and sprinkle with some oats. Bake in preheated oven at 190c for 12-15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Winner & A Shortfall (Mango Pudding & Kahlua Marble Cake)

Ok, time to try 2 much-raved-about recipes. Each in its own right.

One is hugbear's Mango Pudding on KC (see sidebar for link). I substituted whole milk for the whipping cream, as I didn't have any on hand. Result? Yum..., silkly and creamy. Very good. I can imagine that I would be even creamier had I used whipping cream as per original recipe.
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The next recipe is a marble cake recipe that used Kahlua and orange juice. I was so taken with a picture of it in the recipe. Also, I have been wanting to use my new bundt pan. So although the recipe was quite complex, I set about making it. All seems to be going well. The delicious aroma of the cake baking that wafted into the house heightened the anticipation.
But alas, when I took the cake out, the sides and bottom were burnt! Only then I realised that I forgot to turn down the temperature as the pan I used was those grey "so-called" non stick type and basically for these type of pans, I need to lower my oven temperature. So there went my hope for a beautiful looking cake baked in a bundt pan. I had to perform major surgery to cut away the charred bits. Luckily, the inside was unspoiled but then, my mood was.
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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Easy Saturday Lunch (Mini Tuna Mushroom Pie)

Had a sudden craving for pies and was thinking what to have for lunch. Why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone?
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I used a pie pastry recipe from a Y3K recipe book. It uses shortening and does not require freezing. As for the filling, no cooking required. I just used canned tuna, frozen peas and vege., canned mushroom soup and 30 minutes, later I have my pie fresh out from the oven!
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Blessing In Disguise (Banana Coffee Cake)

Recently, I bought a very large packet of over-ripe bananas for RM1. I've learnt that I can freeze these bananas for later use. For those who would like to attempt this, please be advised that they will turn all brown in the freezer (looking like rotten fruits) and the flesh is really mushy when taken out from the freezer and removed from skin. But otherwise, this is really a convenient way to have bananas on-hand and are really ideal for use in banana bread/cakes.

I have tried several banana cake recipes that I like but I was looking to try a brand new recipe. I was quickly drawn to a recipe for "Banana Coffee Muffins" on Jo's site. After all, I can never say no to "coffee" anything.

Instead of making muffins, I halved the recipe and turned them into a loaf cake. First disaster happened when I was making the coffee mixture. I managed to scooped the last 2 tablespoons out from my Nescafe Gold coffee jar. Minutes later, I accidentally spilled the coffee mixture. After a quick search in the pantry, the best I could do was a Nescafe 3-in-1 Coffee pre-mix in RICH. To make it strong, I diluted it in half of the recommended water portion and also reduced the sugar in the cake recipe.

2nd "disaster" happened when I got worried at seeing wet dough after testing the cake for doneness more than an hour since inserting the cake into the oven. Another 10 minutes later, I thought what the heck, and removed the cake. After cooling and slicing the cake, I found the inside to be rather wet/moist. But OMG, it was really delicious. So rich with sweet delicious banana bits, this cake was easily one of my favourite banana cake. However, the coffee taste was merely a hint, but I've kinda expected that.
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Later, I discovered why the cake was so moist. The full recipe calls for 3 bananas. The "smart alec" in me wanted for a richer banana taste so I used 4 bananas but conveniently forgot that I was making 1/2 the full recipe. *lol* But since I liked the end result so much, wouldn't you say that it was a blessing in disguise?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Remedies for a Hot Day (Lemongrass Drink, Mocha Ice-blended, Special Agar-agar)

Twas a hot day. I agree when people say that KL's weather is turning topsy-turvy. It can rain buckets for a stretch of consecutive days; and then it could suddenly get so hot and humid (like yesterday). Busying in the kitchen, it was as if I have been to the gym.

To find some relief from the hot weather, I made:
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Very Refreshing Lemongrass Drink
About 9 stalks of lemongrass (washed and bottom part mashed)
About 5 pandan leaves
2L water
150g of rock sugar (or to taste)
Boil water with lemongrass and pandan leaves. Once it starts to boil, turn down heat and let it simmer (covered) for 30 mins. Add rock sugar (to taste) and let it boil until rock sugar dissolves completely.

Mocha Ice-Blended (Frappucino wannabe) with Chocolate ice-cream and topped with whipped cream
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Special Agar-agar
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(Bottom layer made up by rich & creamy coconut and egg custard layer. You can see the swirly bits of the egg at the bottom layer). Taste-wise, very nice indeed!
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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day (Dinner Spread)

Happy Mother's Day. We celebrated it yesterday at the West Lake Garden Chinese Restaurant in Sunway Lagoon Resort yesterday. Anyhow, I felt that tonight's dinner should be somewhat special than an ordinary day. So although last minute, I proposed to make a special dinner for my mommy tonight.
Because it was a last-minute plan, I was quite frantic in deciding what to cook. My interest lies mainly in baking, I am what you would call "the occasional cook". My interest in cooking is only piqued when I come across interesting recipes. The recipes have to be relatively easy and not too complicated with tons of ingredients.
So finally, here's my menu for the night.

Wu Xi Spare Ribs (recipe from here)
No deep-frying involved. Braised/boiled for 1.5hrs. Result is a very tender and tasty ribs dish.
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Healthy Lemongrass Fish baked in foil
(Based on this recipe)
Very nice too. I agree to another reader's description. Almost like a tom-yum base without the spiciness.
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Braised Sweet Beancurd
(Recipe can be found in Kitchen Capers: See side link)
Full of aroma!
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Broccoli & Mushrooms (contributed by my SIL)
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Superior Chicken Soup with Scallops and Fish Maw (contributed by my SIL)

Dessert: Didn't prepare any because we bought our favourite pandan layer cake from a bakery.

Overall: Not too bad for a beginner, I think. ;-)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I want it FAST! (Baked French Toasts & Coconut Bread)

I didn't have much time yet I wanted some desserts. That was how I ended up with these:

Individual Baked French Toasts
Have it warm with honey (I didn't have maple syrup) drizzled on top. Mmm......
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Coconut Bread
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Recipes can be found from BakingSheet.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What's For Lunch & Dinner? (Healthy Vegan Burger, Roast Pork, Choc Tofu Pudding, Pumpkin Custard)

What's for lunch? Let's have something healthy, simple and fast. How about Vegan Burger? Here's what you do:
Slice a plain sesame burger bun into 2. Lightly butter each side and toast. In the mean time, defrost and microwave a vegan chicken burger patty. Assemble on buns with some sliced tomatoes. Top with some fresh watercress. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar on watercress. Garnish with some chilli sauce, light mayo or cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. Ta-da...
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Since lunch was healthy, let's indulge for dinner. How about some Roast Pork, Chinese-style? (aka "Siew Yok")?
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Can't forget desserts too. Take your pick between
Healthy Chocolate Tofu Pudding
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or Steamed Pumpkin Custard?
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Now, this is what I call "a fruitful day"!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Big, Medium and Small (Yam Layer Cake, Orange Peanut Cake & Cake Dougnuts)

It's Saturday and what's baking?

Something small?
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Mini Cake Doughnuts (no-yeast)
Updated: Recipe posted in Comments.

Or perhaps something medium?
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Easy-peasy Orange Peanut Cake

Or how about something bigger?
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Delicious Yam Layer Cake (FAVOURITE RECIPE)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mango Madness (Mango Lo Mai Chi & Mango Sago Dessert)

My parents recently bought a basket of mangoes. When I saw the mangoes, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to try out some Mango-based dessert recipes such as:

Mango Lo Mai Chi (Chilled Mango Glutinous Rice Dumplings)
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I discovered these precious gems in Hong Kong’s HuiLanShan outlets and they became my staples each time I visited HK. You can imagine my delight when I saw a similar recipe here.
But then, the recipe (the skin) proved much harder than it looked. First of all, I had trouble handling the skin. It was so sticky that I couldn’t maneuver it at all. Gave up and made another type of dumpling skin using Japanese Glutinous Rice Flour, which was a much easier recipe. However, found that I am still left with quite a lot of fillings so I went back to using the prepared skin. This time, to my relief, I found the skin much easier to manage. Probably the key is to let the dough “rest” for a while before using it.
Here’s my end results with 2 types of skin:
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I also had some leftover evaporated milk and mango juice. Added some sago and voila – delicious Chilled Mango Sago dessert that’s so good and refreshing!
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