Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A quick post for a quick dish.

Mom went to Penang recently, and with the head chef gone, that's how I ended up with this dish for dinner. Dad had a tooth taken out earlier in the day so ideally, dinner should involve food that did not require much chewing.

Steamed Tofu & Egg White with Seafood and Broccoli (or I could forget about the long description and simply call this dish Prosperity Tofu just because it sounds good eh?)
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1 packet soft/silken tofu
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Fillings: (Be creative here! You can add finely chopped carrots, corns, waterchestnuts, mushrooms - it's up to you, really.)
1 small broccoli, cut into florets
8 pcs of (imitation) crab meat with/without claws (or substitute with peeled prawns)
Seasoning (again, up to you. Suggestions include soy sauce, pepper, oyster sauce or sesame oil)

1) Mash tofu with fork. Add egg white and mix to combine.
2) Add the chopped fillings of your choice. Add seasonings. Combine well.
3) Pour into a microwaveable casserole dish.
4) Arrange the broccoli florets around the dish and the crab meats in the center.
5) Cover and microwave for about 2-5 minutes until tofu and egg mixture is done (texture should be like steamed eggs); or you could just steam it.
6) Garnish with some chopped cilantro or spring onions. Serve hot.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ong Lai! Ong Lai! (Pineapple Butter Cake)

Pineapple is considered by many as an auspicious food item for the Chinese Lunar New Year. In the Hokkien dialect it is called "ong lai" which means prosperity comes. Not that I am superstitious, but it is nice to make something with pineapple just for the occassion. And that was how I ended up baking a Pineapple Butter Cake for someone to show my gratitude for a favour done. It was a rather last-minute decision. I didn't have any idea on what to bake initially and it was too late to go out and get anything else since it was the eve of CNY and most provision and baking supplies shops would be closed. A quick scan of what I had in the pantry and my eyes settled on a can of pineapples. Aha! Pineapple Butter Cake. Simple and apt for the occassion.
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The recipe was kind of improvised by yours truly. I was pretty worried about how it would taste initially since I have not baked this before. Luckily, I had some extra batter which I poured into muffin cups so I ended up with a couple of cupcakes. Hmm...., not bad at all. Buttery and fluffy cake with chunks of pineapple throughout.
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Here's the recipe.

Pineapple Butter Cake
1 prepared 9x5" butter cake** (recipe below):-

2 eggs + 1 egg white
175 g Butter, softened
100g castor sugar (or adjust to your preference)
150 g plain flour
0.75 tsp baking powder
90ml liquid (juice from canned pineapple)
1/4 or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2c pineapple chunks (cut into smaller pieces) well-drained and coat with a little flour from above***
1T pineapple jam (optional)

1. Beat butter and sugar till white and creamy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time to beat.
3. Sift flour, baking powder together and add into batter to mix.
4. Add juice, vanilla essence and pineapple jam and mix till combined. Do not over mix.
5. Add pineapple chunks and mix till combined. Do not over mix.
6. Pour into greased 9x5" loaf tin.
6. Bake in preheated oven 175 C for 30-40 mins or until done*.

* As baking time and temperature varies with different ovens, it it better to test with skewer for doneness from 30 mins onwards. Cake is done when skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. If top browns too fast, cover with foil.
** For quick fix, buy those ready packed pre-mix from baking supplies shop. Follow the instructions but just substitute liquid with pineapple juice. Last 3 ingredients listed on top to be used as in the above recipe.
*** This is to prevent the pineapple chunks from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Piggy Year! Gong Xi, Gong Xi!

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Today's the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Fire Boar. So here's wishing all
A Happy New Year! May this year brings lots of good times, happy moments and excellence in everything!

For the customary family reunion lunch/dinner yesterday, I made some little contributions.

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Chilled Water Chestnut Cake. Cooling & refreshing! Link to recipe here.

And from Gina, I made some white nian gao. I didn't have any other suitable molds other than my mooncake jelly molds. Anyhow, they still look auspicious for the occasion, don't you think?

Steamed White Nian Gao
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Very nice to have this together with some steamed fresh coconut flakes.
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Have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

R&R at Cameron Highlands Resort

Recently went on a last-minute, unplanned but totally relaxing trip to Cameron Highlands Resort. Here are some photos for preview. I will post the remaining later.

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Outside Cameron Highlands Resort by YTL. Used to be known as Merlin.

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CNY Feel at the reception area.

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Very spacious and comfortable rooms with elegant colonial design
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Such a cosy place to have afternoon tea complete with scones, jam and cream.

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Reading Room. So "English".

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Gonbei Japanese Restaurant at the Resort

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Picture of the nearby Smokehouse.

So what are you baking for CNY? Part II

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In continuation of my previous post, I found time to bake more CNY cookies before CNY comes around. Not that I really need to bake as there are already tons of different CNY cookies at home. But somehow, it seems more befitting that I bake some CNY cookies for my family.

Here are 2 more new recipes that I tried this year, courtesy of Yochana.

Satay Fish Cookies (FAVOURITE RECIPE)
Crispy, crunchy and slightly savoury. I just found a new favourite!
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Note: I added at least 20g extra satay fish (the crispy type). Too lazy to roll them out so just rolled them into balls. Easy!

Seaweed Cookies
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I made a mistake with this recipe. I halved the recipe but forgot to half the icing sugar required. As a result, my dough was too dry and tough to pipe out. So I rolled them out and cut them using a cookie cutter. Not bad, a very crispy and crunchy type of seaweed-flavoured butter cookie.

Hmm..., I wonder if I got time to bake some more?

Note: The above recipes can be found on Yochana's blog. Link provided above and side bar.

Friday, February 09, 2007

So what are you baking for CNY?

Lately, I have been receiving a few enquiries from friends who knew of my interest in baking. They asked me, "So what are you baking for Chinese New Year?" I felt ashamed in replying, "So far, nothing." With CNY about a week more to go, time is running out for me particularly when I have been too ambitious in preparing my "CNY To-Bake List". I think I had at least 6 different types of cookies that I planned to bake. But like I said earlier, with CNY about a week more to go, I think I need to be more realistic and trim the list down to maybe 4 selections. Or perhaps 3. Hmm...., or maybe just 2.

But at least, I already baked my 1st batch of CNY cookies. Ta-da....., Green Peas Cookies (not green bean or mung beans).
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A friend introduced me to these cookies last year which I enjoyed very much. Then later, I found a stall in a shopping mall that sells very good green peas cookies - the melting type. Sadly, they no longer sell them. Recently, I found a recipe for these cookies and to my delight, the recipe looked so simple to make (and they really are!). This version results in a very crunchy cookie, particularly since I did not blend the green peas too well, rather roughly grounding them into coarse bits.
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Using a good oil is important (such as sunflower, canola or soya that does not have a strong scent), otherwise the cookies will stink of oil (I can't stand the smell of blended cooking oil such as Knife or Neptune. I also added some vanilla essence, just in case.

May have to bake another batch since I almost finished the first batch by myself *grins*. Well, at least 1 down and another 1 or 2 more to go...

Link to recipe.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Comfort Baking

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Tall & Fluffy Pandan Chiffon Cake

I have heard about comfort food but is there such thing as comfort baking? Well, there is, at least for me. Baking can be very therapeutic, particularly when you are baking stuff that you have baked a few times before - those tried & tested recipes that everyone likes.

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Walnut Raisin Bread