Gingerbread cookies

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It seems that the images of gingerbread cookies would pop up each time I went into IG or FB and this spur me to bake my own gingerbread cookies. It was timely too since I have just read The Gingerbread Man story to Faith and I had wanted to have a baking session that is related to the story.

I only know one recipe for such a cookie and that is from Dorie Greenspan. Her speculoos’ recipe is awesome and I know I will not need to look any further. Speculoos are crisp brown-sugar cookies whose predominant spice is cinnamon. Eating them will definitely make you think of Christmas.

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This recipe yields about 24 large cookies and the rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour20151221_081308
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 98g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature

1. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

2. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until it, too, is blended into the butter and sugars. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough. You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal. Using your hands or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to get rid of any dry spots.

3. Divide the dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper until you have a circle that’s about ¼ inch thick. As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t have rolling creases in the dough. Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days)

4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Choose a cookie cutter and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough, carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

6. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes (or 12 minutes in my case for large cookies), or until they are lightly golden and brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
7. Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it. To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.
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I got the little girl to decorate the gingerbread man using sprinkles after I have piped the border using Royal Icing. While in the midst of doing it, the baby decided to poo BIG time and I had to leave the job to Faith while I bathed him. When I came back, she had taken the piping bag and piped on two cookies.
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These are her creation.
A piece of art, I must say. ;p
I will get her to do a better job next year.
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[Foodie Fridays] Mango Chia Seeds Pomelo

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One of my favourite dessert is the Mango Sago Pomelo dessert and it is not difficult to make at all. To make a healthier version, I replaced the sago with Chia Seeds and since I don’t fancy the idea of drinking evaporated milk, I substituted it with coconut milk and pasteurized milk. I guess I could make it even healthier by using almond milk but I suspect the taste would be a tad different from the original. For now, I quite like how this version turns out – it’s somewhat the same as the one I like.

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I managed to yield 6 portions from this recipe.

200ml coconut milk
200ml milk
4 tbsp chia seeds (though I think 3 tbsp is sufficient)
400ml mango juice (I used Marigold’s Peel Fresh Tropical Mango)
3 mangoes

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  1. Combine both coconut milk and milk together and add in the Chia Seeds to allow them to bloom. Set aside in the fridge.

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2. Remove the flesh from the mango. Set aside some for garnishing later.

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3. Using a handheld blender, blend the mango flesh together with the mango juice until it is well-mixed.

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4. Add in the chia seeds + milk mixture to the mango mixture and stir until they are mixed well.

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5. Peel the pomelo and remove the flesh, breaking them up into smaller portions. I only used about half of the pomelo. Store the rest in the fridge.

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6. Pour the mango mixture onto a glass and top it up with mango bits and pomelo.

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This is best served chilled and I reserved a few bottles in the fridge and ate them a day later. Still mighty good. I don’t usually make this dessert but because I saw both the main ingredients for sale in the supermarket and decided to make it.

Really pleasurable!

[Foodie Friday] Hokkaido Milk Bread

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The other day I was shopping at the supermarket at I12 and saw packets of Hokkaido milk for sale. My first thought was to use it to bake the Hokkaido Milk Bread and it was weeks later that I got to bake it.

This recipe is taken from the video above and it uses the Tang Zhong method which promises a soft bread texture. I used about 250g of the bread dough to make red bean buns since Faith and I love red bean anything. This time round, I used the paste from the can but the next time I bake them, I’ll make sure to make it from scratch.

For the Tangzhong
250ml water
75g all purpose flour

For bread dough
375g all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 packet yeast (2.5 tsp)
125ml Hokkaido Milk
1 egg
145g tangzhong
3 tablespoons butter, melted

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1.    To prepare the tangzhong.  In a medium heat pan, combine water and flour mixture until it thickens like a paste.  Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

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2.    To prepare the dough, sieve the flour and combine with sugar, salt, and yeast in the mixer bowl.  In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and add the milk, butter to the egg and whisk to combine.

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3.    Add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.  Using the dough hook, mix for 1 minute.  Add 145g (1/2cup) of the tangzhong and continue to mix until a dough is formed. The texture should be smooth and sticky. Store the remaining amount of TangZhong in the refrigerator for at most 3 days.

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4.    Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to proof until double the size, about 1 hour.

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5.    Sprinkle some flour on the counter surface.  My dough weighs about 780g and I set aside 250g of the dough for my red bean buns. Divide the remaining dough into 4 equal pieces and use a circular motion to shape them into balls.

6.    Using a rolling pin, roll dough into an oval shape disk about 1cm thick, fold the edges to the middle and roll again into 1cm thick.  Roll to form a tube like shape

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7.    Place 4 rolls seam side down into an oiled loaf pan. I used a silicon one.

8.    Let it rise again until double in shape for another 30 minutes to an hour.

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9.    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Do an egg wash on the surface of the dough and bake the loaf for about 15-20 minutes in total.  When you see that the loaf turns golden brown, cover the bread with foil to prevent over-browning.

10.    When the bread is ready, let it cool for 5 minutes and shake it off the pan and place it on the cooling rack.

For the red bean buns, I weigh five 50g bread dough and roll them into balls. Thereafter, I divide the can of red bean paste into 5 portions. Each ball of dough is flattened and then the red bean paste is wrapped inside it. Then put it into the muffin pan with the seam side down.

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Bake the red bean buns together with the Hokkaido Milk Bread for the same amount of time.

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A word of caution though. Look at the bun that has ‘exploded’? That’s because I put too much red bean paste in it. And you are right. I didn’t divide the paste properly so when it came to the last bun, I tried to stuff as much paste as possible. ;(

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The Milk Bread is truly soft!
Try it when you are free.
😉

Goodness & satisfaction in home-cooked food

I grew up with home-cooked food. My mother, a very busy working mom herself, made sure that the members in her household were well-fed with nutritious food. Eating out was rare and a treat in itself but we seldom craved for food sold outside since hers was simply scrumptious. Her Cantonese cuisine was always prepared with much care and love (no doubt) and because of her tireless effort in providing meals that nourished the souls throughout our growing-up years, all of us (my siblings and I) are influenced by her to provide home-cooked food for our family.

I didn’t say it is easy, by the way, to always prepare meals. There is much to do – grocery, food preparation, cooking, washing up – and such work becomes a chore when you have a toddler always vying for attention as you do the above. Preparing fuss-free yet nutritious meals is the way to go and I realized that planning meals for the whole week helps a lot in terms of doing the grocery and resisting the temptation to eat out.

Last year, most of my meals were prepared in an ad-hoc manner and the meals got repeated (read ‘boring’) and this year, I resolve to serve more varieties on the dining table!

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I always have two things prepared and kept in the fridge – chicken broth and teriyaki sauce. Both are often used in the meals that I prepare and they are easy to make. Say, this dish for example, it is couscous that is simmered in chicken broth. I didn’t want to use the spices as the little one may not like the taste of it. Throw in bunashimeiji (brown beech) mushrooms and baby spinach and topped with salmon that is pan-fried with teriyaki sauce and you’ve got a wholesome and quick-fix meal.

Homemade teriyaki sauce: 2 1/2 tbsp sugar + 3 tbsp soy sauce + 90ml sake

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My current craze is Japanese cuisine simply because the dishes are easy to prepare and healthier. Okayo-don, a one-dish meal can be done up in minutes. Just combine chicken broth, water, soy sauce and sugar in a saucepan. Add the chicken and onion and bring to a simmer over high heat until the chicken is just cooked through. Then pour in the beaten egg slowly until it’s just a little runny and ladle the egg and chicken mixture over the Japanese rice and that’s your meal! Easy?

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There are times, of course, that I would take extra effort in preparing my meals. This bento (salmon rice roll, rolled omelette, boiled French beans, prawns and tofu) took 2 hours to prepare but it was all worth it when Faith finished up the whole lot of it, leaving just a few French beans and tofu for me. It’s her way of telling me that the food’s good for her! And that’s good enough for me!

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Once in a while, I would go the extra mile to cook something that da man likes such as baked pork chops with fried rice. Usually, this would not be on my list to cook since this involves frying and that means I have to clean the kitchen really thoroughly. I did really want to give this dish up until I realized that I have already bought the pork loin chops and they were sitting in the fridge, waiting to be pan-fried. Oh well…

These have been my collection of food prepared this week and I’m excited to begin the coming week with new dishes again.

What are you cooking this week? 🙂

Mushroom Pumpkin Mixed Rice

If you know me, I’m a huge fan of one-pot-dish meal. Call me lazy but there are really too many things to handle and I just need to fix a quick and healthy meal for the family. I can certainly eat out, like what the hubs always tells me to do but I don’t really fancy that idea because I want the little one to be interested with what’s going on in the kitchen, just like how my mom got us all to be so hands-on with food preparation and cooking from young. Yea, even my brother cooks well. It’s certainly a skill that I want to impart to Faith.

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I love this Mushroom Pumpkin Mixed Rice because it is absolutely tasty and doesn’t involve too much work. Credit goes to Naturel Living who inserted a recipe in the goodie bag that I received during the recent Eeva Chang’s Language Power talk show. I thought it would be worthwhile to try out the recipe since Faith loves pumpkin and mushroom. Win-win situation for me!

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Ok, I must also confess that the pressed rice on the first page attracted me so much that I kept the leftlet. I had wanted to make Bento sets and this picture really captures my attention. Oh! The many things that I want to do!

Anyway, here’s the recipe, just in case the words in the picture are too small. By the way, I used their organic mixed brown and red rice and I must say it is good! The recipe serves 4.

Ingredients: 
2 cups Naturel Organic Mixed Brown and Red Rice (uncooked)
300g Pumpkin (small cubes)
200g Chicken thigh (small chunks)
100g Chinese cabbage
12 pcs Shittake mushroom
20g Dried shrimp
1 stalk spring onion
10g Raw ginger (sliced)
20g Garlic (2 cloves)
500ml Chicken Stock or Woh Hup Concentrated Chicken Stock

Seasoning (Pre-mix in a bowl)
2tsp salt
1tbsp Light soy sauce
1tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1tbsp Naturel Pure Olive oil
1/2 tsp Ground white pepper
1tsp Sesame oil
1tsp Thai Fish Sauce

Preparation:
1. Rinse the rice and drain.

2. Rinse pumpkin and cabbage.

3. Soak dried shrimp.

4. Cut ginger into slices, crush and peel garlic and dice spring onion.

5. Pre-mix all seasoning in a bowl.

Method:

1. Heat the olive oil in a wok. Add chicken, ginger, garlic and dried shrimp. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked on the outside and fragrant.

2. Add in shittake mushroom, cabbage, pumpkin and mixed brown and red rice (uncooked). Stir-fry evenly.

3. Add in the chicken stock, seasoning and continue to stir-fry for another minute.

4. Transfer all ingredients to an electric rice cooker to cook fully.

5. Garnish with spring onion (and seaweed) and serve hot.

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Maybe I will attempt Bento next… for Faith!

Cold noodle salad

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This is a dish that is so suitable for our very warm weather! I had it at the recent cell group meeting which was hosted by Trisa and her hubs and I was instantly refreshed after taking a bite. It must be the cold noodles that did the job. So, I asked the gracious lady for the recipe and here goes. There wouldn’t be specific measurement though but you will get it if you follow the instructions.

Use angel hair spaghetti and follow the instruction on the packaging. Mine only needs to be cooked for 3 minutes and after that, I soak the noodles in icy cold water, making sure that the noodles are cold before draining them of the water. This stops the noodles from further being cooked.

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Then add in some sesame oil and mix well. This is done to prevent the noodles from sticking to one another.

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After this, I placed the bowl of noodles into the refrigerator for a few hours until before serving.

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At the point of serving, I added the Japanese sesame salad dressing,  salad and black sesame seeds and toss evenly. To have a more substantial meal, you can add ham, roasted chicken stripes or like me, sausages!

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Hope you like this dish!

Foodie Friday | Teriyaki Chicken Don

I cook often and sometimes in a bid to get the meals out quickly, I stick to the ones that I often cook. It gets boring after a while and I think it’s time to inject some life into my cooking.

9789814398510Recently, I’m into Donburi, a rice meal topped with any ingredient. Still sounds dull right? Thankfully, I received some inspiration from a cooking book by Aki Watanabe called Donburi which includes a lot of delicious-looking rice meals waiting for me to try. I whipped up a few and love the end result so I thought I should share one of the recipes found in the book, a widely popular meal – Teriyaki Chicken Don. I’m sure many have tried cooking this but I absolutely adore the homemade teriyaki sauce listed in the book, so I thought I should share. I hope she doesn’t mind. This is an adapted version. I have omitted the salt and pepper since I am offering to the little one and soy sauce is tasteful enough for her!

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What you would need (yields 2): 
Boneless chicken leg 300g (I got mine from the market, deboned)
Canola oil for pan-frying
Steamed rice
Nori & wasabi sprouts for ganishing
Mixed chilli powder for seasoning

Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce 40ml
Caster sugar 15g
Sake 10ml
Mirin 4 tbsp

1. Heat all ingredients for teriyaki sauce in a pan. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Set aside.

2. Remove yellow fat from chicken meat.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Pan-fry chicken over medium heat until both sides have browned.

4. Cover with a lid and cook chicken over low heat. When chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan.

5. Clean the pan with kitchen towels and pour in teriyaki sauce. Place chicken in the sauce and heat until the meat is glazed and the sauce thickens.

6. Slice chicken into strips and place on rice. Pour the sauce over.

7. Garnish with wasabi sprouts and nori or toasted sesame seeds.

8. Serve with mixed chilli powder.

Using the recipes found in the book, I’ve also cooked the Tofu and Mushroom Don, adjusting the flavour of the seasoning to suit my daughter. And she loved it!

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This is another meal that is inspired by one of the recipes. Not a don but ramen.

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The book has inspired me to cook better rice meals. Perhaps you can take a look for yourself? 😉

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WW | My companion in the kitchen

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and naturally Faith will follow me. She will open the drawers and pull all the stuff out. I’m fine with it, really. Recently, I realised that my washed vegetables can actually entertain her for quite some time. She will tear the leaves (fine motor skills) , taste it and then try to feed me (pretend play). Thankfully, she will still eat the vegetables after I have cooked them.

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The kitchen, t’s really a fun place!

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A 15-minute lunch

The combination of olive oil + garlic + dry white wine + kafir leaves never fails. In a continual attempt to eat healthily, I did a 15-minute meal for lunch. Pan-seared cod fillet on toasted bread and with blanched asparagus on the side. Since I have wasabi sprouts in the fridge, they are thrown in as well.

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Simple. Just like that. And a wholesome meal is created.

What are you having for lunch?

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Faith is looking hungry!

Food Revolution Day

It’s Food Revolution Day today! For the uninitiated ones, Food Revolution Day is a chance for people all over the world to come together and stand up for good food and essential cooking skills. It’s a chance for people to come together in homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skills, food knowledge and resources. Food Revolution Day is a global day of action to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone.

The theme for this year’s Food Revolution Day is “Cook it. Share it. Live it” and here I am, sharing with you what I have prepared for breakfast today – my Asian-inspired Sliders

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I’ve been meaning to make sliders or mini-burgers for a while and wanted to do every thing from scratch. Yes, even the bread. So, I chose to bake Brioche through Dorie Greenspan‘s Around my French Table as part of the French Fridays with Dorie project.

IMG_3803Err…yes, food education starts early for my little one. Faith was so amused by the flapping of the dough that she chuckled the way through. The mom felt bad for the Kitchenaid though since the dough took soooo long to be ready. Well, that’s brioche for you. Be patient and you will reap the reward.

From the recipe, I should be able to yield 2 loaves of brioche but I decided to apportion about half of it to shape it into burgers while the rest into a loaf.

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The best thing about baking bread is that your kitchen will be perfumed by the aroma that it gives when it is in the oven. *Drool*

With my bread ready, I went on to make the lemongrass-infused pork patties. They are not at all difficult to make if you have the right tool, the Philips Chopper! I just put all the ingredients into the chopper and within minutes, the patties are shaped and ready to be cooked.

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About 400g ground pork
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small stalk lemon grass, minced (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
1/4 cup coriander stems, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp cornflour
Light cooking oil

1. Combine first 8 ingredients gently in bowl being careful not to overwork or meat will bind up and become tight. Season lightly with ground black pepper.

2. Divide the mixture into 8 patties (depending on how big you want) – first forming gently into balls and then flatten gently as to not overwork mixture.

3. Heat oil in a large saute  pan and saute until just cooked through – about 2-3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of the patties; I used 5 minutes per side).

To assemble everything, I added cheese and Alfalfa sprouts to complete my asian-inspired sliders! Asian because of the ingredients used – lemongrass and fish sauce.

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The hubs love it but he probably is not in the least interested in how to make this dish so I’m sharing with you!

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ffwd   

Thursday

Finally, a day of rest on a Thursday.

Nope. The one-week holiday is actually not ours to claim. It’s the children’s. I’m just glad that I have Thursday and Friday to bum at home, a choice that I intentionally make.

Ken and I have shifted into the apartment on Saturday. Thankfully, a cell group member was away during that weekend and loaned us his station wagon which was really a blessing. We were able to transport a few suitcases of clothes and books. The rest? Akan datang.

So today, mom brought me to the popular blocks of flats in Tampines where there are rows of supermarkets, coffeeshops and all the different kinds of shops you can find in the heartland. This place is absolutely teeming with life!

So mom brought me around and taught me how to bring certain cuts of meat and since she was so ‘friends’ with the stall owners, I got discounts too. A bonus when you shop with mom.

In that one morning, a few hundreds of dollars were contributed to the economy. The initial setting up of a home really requires cash! Hopefully, we don’t have to fork out more as we settle in.

And do you know which space is my favourite in the apartment?

You guess it right! It’s the kitchen. What else?

The service area. Does the dryer make noise when it is in use? The noise made by the buttons on the shirts?

The trustworthy machines. The gas is supposed to be installed today but my contractor made a boo boo and now we had to postpone it. Thankfully, the rice cooker works wonders. Next up, the standmixer!

Raspberry bran muffin

19 more days before we depart and bid sayonaro to Boston. Looking at the current state of the kitchen, I still have a lot of things to clear. Flour, noodles, rice, sauces…I probably wouldn’t be able to clear them before that date. Nonetheless, I will keep on trying!

If there’s anything that I will miss during my time here, it would be the many wonderful friends that I have made and baking. The company makes a difference wherever you are and to be able to meet so many fun-loving and God-fearing friends is just a precious gift from the Lord. They are just…different.

Baking. Oh! How I will miss this new-found hobby when I go back home. Not that I will totally abandon it, but I also know that work will constitute a large part of my life and along with all other commitments, baking has to take back seat. Now with about 2 weeks to go before I depart from my beloved standmixer, all the more I will want to spend more time baking.

This recipe is created because I didn’t have some of the ingredients from another recipe. So, I decided to just play around and see if it works.

I guess it does. Muffins and cupcakes are just some of the things that you wouldn’t mess up terribly even if you are a novice. As an amateur, the first baked goods I made were muffins and cookies and they turned out okay. This one is moist, not too sweet and delicious. I wanted to stop after having the first bite but I failed.

Since this is just an attempt, I halved the original amount for baking 12 muffins. Using the standard muffin pan, I was able to yield 8 in the end.

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooked
1/8 cup brown sugar, plus more for topping
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 large egg
1/4 cup honey (didn’t really have enough amount and top it up with light corn syrup)
1/8 cup canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose oil
1/2 cup FARINA (wheat germ), lightly toasted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 cup raspberry

 1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan (you won’t yield all 12).

3. In a large bowl, whisk by hand the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add the egg and whisk to combine.

4. Add the honey and canola oil. Whisk until emulsified.

5. Add the flour, FARINA, baking soda, and yogurt, and whisk together just until combined.

6. Fill in the muffin cups about 3/4 full. Top with the raspberries. Crumble a little brown sugar on top of the fruit.

7. Bake in the oven until the cake springs back and the tops are golden brown about 20 to 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Nigella’s Devil’s Food Cake

I must say I got an immense sense of joy when I looked at the finished product and all the more satisfied when the scraps and frosting entered the mouth. Heavenly!

This cake was baked at the request of GT who shared a most wonderful piece of news to me on Monday evening. While I didn’t have the privilege of leading our dear friend to say the sinner’s prayer, all of us did have a share in introducing Him to her and I’m only glad to bake her a cake to celebrate this wonderful occasion.

Initially I had wanted to bake the yellow cake but this recipe somehow came to
my mind. The ingredients needed were not complicated but most importantly, good dark chocolate had to be used.

The cake was easy to bake and the result was a decadent, moist cake and the frosting really delish. I like it that the recipe doesn’t use powdered sugar but more of butter and dark chocolate. The texture was smooth and it was not too rich like most American buttercream.

I certainly hope the intended recipient will like it. =)

Source: Nigella’s Devil’s Food Cake

Serves 10 – 12
for the cake:
1/2 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown/muscovado sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 stick plus 1 tbsp (9tbsp/ 126g) soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

for the frosting:
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (171g) unsalted butter, cubed
311g best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or 2 cups chips)

2 x 8-inch round cake pans

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/ 350F. Line the bottoms of both cake pans with baking parchment and butter the sides.
  2. Put the cocoa and 1/2 cup dark muscovado/brown sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.
  4. While this is going on, stir the flour, baking powder and baking soda together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment.
  5. Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.
  6. Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.
  7. Divide this fabulously chocolatey batter between the 2 prepared pans and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.
  9. But as soon as the cakes are in the oven, get started on your frosting: put the water, 2 tbsp dark brown/ muscovado sugar and 1 1/2 sticks butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
  10. When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.
  11. Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting.
  12. Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula.

Reminder to self: Frosting will take time to reach a state that is desirable to frost, about 2 -3 hours in Spore context. Do make before baking, perhaps.

Sizzling in the kitchen

Yesterday was the last time we help to prepare food for the 100 people in the fellowship. It wasn’t easy doing that, having to purchase the ingredients a day before, marinate the meat (depending on what you were planning to cook) and then the actual cooking.

But it was all a lot of fun, and a lot of perspiration and stress. Given about 2.5 hours to do everything, it’s a race against time for us amateurs. At the end of it, everyone enjoyed it and was satisfied. Oh! The joy of cooking!

Have decided to document the last session with pics. For memory’s sake.

The pots and pans are super big and heavy. You need muscles in the kitchen and being tall has its advantage.

  
We had our fill first before getting started. The fried carrot cake at the Vietnamese Sandwich store reminded me of home and HK.

SL wanted to make 宫保鸡丁. What a lot of chicken to be diced.

  
Getting down to work. Testing knife skills.

The cooks started to cook while the rest continued to prepare the ingredients.

Hard at work @ 11.50am.

  
The kitchen is a busy place especially when the time draws near for lunch.

The fruits of our labour. Serving time. Filling hungry mouths.

More pics here.

Bak Kut Teh

I’ve never been fond of this Chinese soup which is popularly served in Malaysia, China, Taiwan, the Indonesian island of Riau and of course, Singaland. Perhaps, it’s because my mom doesn’t really cook this at home and thus I have little opportunity to appreciate it. The most recent time I had Bak Kut Teh was when a colleague brought me to the one along Keppel Road. That one…was good!

In an attempt to finish whatever food and pre-mixes that I have in my cupboard, I came across the one for Bak Kut Teh. The good folks at home, whoever they are (CG or in-laws), have mailed it to us, along with other packets and I thought it timely to make this dish!

And it’s real easy. I just have to dump 2 packets of the bag of spices ( star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds) in 1500ml of water, boil it for 30 minutes before adding soy sauce, dark soy sauce, garlic and the short ribs into it and simmer for 1.5 hours (remember to remove the scum!). The instructions on the packet suggested 1 hour but I want my meat to be fork-tender and adding 30 more minutes makes a good result. I also added another star anise and more Chinese pepper because I like it peppery. It turns out so delicious! Yum yum!

Such a simple dish and to be able to share it with the hubs is pure bliss.

 

White Chocolate and Raspberry Macarons

I shall persevere, until the mystery of the finicky ones is solved.

I have had successes with them but the recent failures had only serve to spur me on to bake more often, test the recipes and discover what the plausible cause(s) of failures would be.

Since I had bought a bottle of raspberry jam two days ago, I thought of the wonderful combination of white chocolate ganache and raspberry jam. The filling wouldn’t be too difficult to make. The tricky parts as usual, were the whipping of the egg whites and the macaronage.

This time round, I decided to pay more attention to everything, including having the exact weight of the egg whites and blending the almond flour and powered sugar using the food processor. I realised then that I have been using less egg whites for the past few attempts! Goodness! Soo desne!

Everything seemed to go smoothly. The pre-baked macaron shells sat neatly on the baking sheet waiting to be dried. Then in went the sheet pans at 325F. About 12 minutes later, they came out…uncracked yet without the feet! Oh my goodness! What’s wrong again?

Perhaps it’s the temperature? I adjusted a little. Since the oven did not have digital reading, I would have to gauge by trial and error. The second sheet pan went in and the macarons came out, uncracked and some with feet. Hmm…better but still not well done. Tempered with the temperature again until I decided to use double sheet pans.

And it worked! Too bad this was the last batch!

The rest was easy. This time round, the macarons were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Wonderful!

Note to self:
1. Use temperature of 310F for about 12 minutes for this oven.
2. Buy oven with digital reading.
3. Use double sheet pans during baking.

Hmm…what flavour shall I bake the next time?
Oh! I realised I have baked 10 different macaron flavours! Yay! #6 of the to-do list is completed!

White Chocolate ganache
150g white chocolate, finely chopped
5 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl. Put the cream and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and heat until the cream has come to the boil. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and leave to melt for 1 minute. Stir until smooth then leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate until thickened.

French Apple Tart

It was poptart that I wanted to bake initially. The Pate Brisee is in the refrigerator, all ready for me to be used. Then I came across a beautiful picture in November 2010 issue of Saveur and changed my mind instantly. The presentation is too pretty and the recipe too easy not to bake.

The original recipe is by New York City chef and author Sara Moulton. I will have to tweak a little since I’m not following hers from scratch.

For the filling, you will need:
7 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and halved ( I used whatever apples I have in the fridge),  1/4 cup sugar (but I only used about half of the amount), 1/2 cup apricot jam.

With Joanne Chang’s Pate Brisee, I transferred it to a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough into a 13″ circle and then transfer to a 11″ tart pan with a removable bottom. I have a 10″ tart pan though so I had extra dough at the end. Trim the edges and chill for 1 hour.

how to make a gif

Heat the oven to 375F. Working with one apple half at a time, thinly slice into sections, keeping slices together. Press sliced apple half gently to fan it out; repeat with remaining apple halves. Place 1 fanned apple half on outer edge of the tart dough, pointing inward; repeat with 7 more apple halves. Separate remaining apple slices. Starting where the apple halves touch and working your way in, layer apples to create a tight rose pattern. Fill in any gaps with remaining apple. Sprinkle with sugar and then dot with remaining butter. Bake until golden brown, 60-70 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat apricot jam in a small saucepan until warmed and loose; pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl and set aside. Transfer tart to a wire rack; using a pastry brush, brush top of tart with jam. Let cool completely before slicing and serving with whipped cream, if you wish.

Obviously, the presentation could be better. But considering that this is the first time I’m attempting, I’m going to accept it and give it a ‘satisfaction’ grade. Presentation aside, this is really delicious.

Pâte Brisée
Makes about 18 ounces dough, enough for 8 pop-tarts or one 9-inch double-crust or lattice-top pie

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks / 228 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cold milk

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and lumps of butter the size of pecans are visible throughout.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface, then gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface (at Flour we call this “going down the mountain”), until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.

Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Monday bakes

The bananas that Yumi brought over on Friday are ripe and ready to be turned into a banana bread. I have baked this a few times and they have received raved review. No harm baking again. Brekky for the next few days!

And since I have chocolate ganache lying in the fridge, I might as well bake chocolate macarons. I really want to improve my technique. I made a few mistakes but in the end, the presentation turns out ok though I’m not sure about the texture. My friends would have to be guinea pigs again while I try and try again.

Too runny a batter! Darn!

Inconsistent sizes =(

Macarons in a ramekin

Chocolate macarons!

Apple Cinnamon Toaster Strudel

Another apple stuff. No, not related to Jobs. Taken from the kitchn. I find the filling a tad too sweet. The next time I try, I would decrease the amount of brown sugar. Was lazy too. Used store-bought puff pastry.

  
Pics taken at night (left) and daytime (natural light) using Lumix.

Taken using Canon EOS 400D.

Apple Cinnamon Toaster Strudels
Serves 8
Adapted from the kitchn 

For the crust
1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling
2 baking apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

For the filling, grate the apples on the large holes of a box grater. In a heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the grated apples and toss until coated. Add the brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon of (chilled) butter. Cool the filling to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375°

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a well-floured work surface, continuing to flour the work surface as necessary throughout the rolling/trimming process. Roll out the pastry to form a very large, thin rectangle. Trim the edges of the dough to make a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut out 8 (3-1/2 x 5 inch) rectangles.

Transfer 4 of the rectangles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon a scant 2 tablespoons of the apple filling into the center of these. Spread the filling evenly across the pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch space clean around the perimeter. Brush the other 4 rectangles with the egg wash. Place an egg washed rectangle directly over a filled rectangle (egg wash touching the filling). Using your fingertips, firmly seal the edges on all sides (dip your fingers in a little flour if the dough is sticky). Use the tines of the fork to seal the shorter 2 ends of the rectangles. Prick each strudel all over with a fork, including the sealed edges. Repeat this step with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Egg wash the rectangles before baking them in the oven. Bake the strudels until puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before eating. Serve warm.

Friday bakes

This weekend is packed to the core. While we do not have any halloween party, we do have invitations of various kinds and this provides a good opportunity to bake since there would be people who could possibly polish the food off. Yay! And since I have only about a month more to go before I let go of my beloved standmixer, I need to maximise the use of it.

First up is Joanne Chang’s Apple Snacking Spice Cake which is easy to bake and delicious for munching. I have been attempting some of her recipes and thus far, they turn out good!

Somehow, the combination of apple, raisins and pecan nuts won’t get you nowhere.

Next up is banoffee macarons, one that Yumi chose to bake from the Macarons book that she gave me months ago. Since I had just attended the French Macarons class, I’m ready to apply what I’ve learnt. Having to eyeball the whipped egg whites to a shiny, smooth consistency is key to having a sexy looking macaron shell and I’m nervous about it. We do have feet this time but the shells are a tad hollow. What is wrong again??

Last but not least, we baked Spiced Chai Latte Cupcakes. Baking them made me think of the reason why I started baking in the first place – that I was captivated by the many many cupcakes that I saw online and was thus enticed to bake them. Cupcakes are easy to bake and they are absolutely not as finicky as macarons. I got the idea to bake these cupcakes from the blog – Love & Olive Oil – but adapted a little using the Chai Latte teabags instead of the black ones. Thus, I also adjusted the amount of spices used – half of the amount indicated. The frosting is just amazing! It’s so delicious and not as heavy as the usual (American) buttercream. The cupcakes turn out moist and the whole combination is just heavenly! This cupcake recipe is for keeps.

Happy baking!

Apple pancake

Hello! It’s the weekends and I finally can take some time to meddle in the kitchen.! My refrigerator is still packed with two bagfuls of apples even though we or rather I had been trying to eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away. So, the other alternatives to solving this beautiful problem are to give the apples away or bake them!

Thankfully, there are various recipes on the internet and the kitchn has wonderful ones on the website. I thought of baking the apple pancake since I have all the ingredients in my kitchen. Yay! It alos requires a no-fuss kind of baking. Double bonus!

Am pasting the recipe here for reference sake.

Weekend Apple Pancake 
serves 3 to 4

2 large or 3 medium apples, preferably tart ones like Granny Smith ( I used 2)
4 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs ( I used 4)
Powdered or cinnamon sugar, to serve

Heat the oven to 400°F. Peel, core, and quarter the apples, then cut them into medium slices (1/4-inch thick or less). Then cut the slices in halves or thirds. You should have about 3 cups of chopped apples.

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and ginger and set aside.

Cut the butter into chunks and place them in a deep cast iron skillet or 8×8-inch baking dish. Put the skillet or baking dish in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the butter is melted. Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the 1/3 cup brown sugar over the melted butter. Carefully spread the apples on top of the brown sugar and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apples. Put the pan back in the oven to caramelize the apples and sugar.

 
 

Whisk the flour with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly with a large wire whisk to beat out any lumps. When the flour is smoothly incorporated into the milk, beat in the vanilla and the eggs one by one. Beat by hand for 2 minutes, or until foamy. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. By now the sugar should be bubbling around the apples.

Take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter over the apples. Bake for about 20 – 25 more minutes or until center is set and sides are lightly browned. The pancake will puff up dramatically but fall after a few minutes after you take it out of the oven.

 

 

Busy but happy Friday

Love it when friends come over for a meal or to cook together!

It’s Yumi’s first attempt at macarons. Deep in me I was afraid of what the weather can do to the end result of the macarons. Remember, my previous failed attempt was on a humid rainy day too?

And the shells did crack! I’m really not sure if it’s the macaronage or the weather. But it’s too much of a coincidence to ignore the possibility that the humidity might play a part. Oh well. We’ll try again. It’s a lot of fun baking with Yumi though.

Some pics.

They looked good after being piped but you only know the results when you take them out from the oven.

The salted caramel is also difficult to handle. Have to wait a long time before it cools and hardens slightly.

After the baking of macarons came second round – cooking bak chor mee! This time, it’s with the 2 gals from BC. They wanted to learn how to make the dish and we had fun too!

  
Fun with the gals

Happy faces! Yay!

=)

 

Roasted broccoli with red pepper flakes and garlic

I love roasting of any kind. Roasting of vegetables and meat and less pots and pans to wash! That also means less time at the stovetop!

Serves 4 -6
Source: Good food to share by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan

1 1/2Ib (750g) brocooli heads, ends trimmed
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice plus more for serving
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Cut the broccoli lengthwise into spears 4-6 inches long. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife, peel off any dried or bruised skin from the stems.

Arrange the spears in a single layer in a roasting pan. Pour the olive oil over the spears, then sprinkle with the lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Roast, turning once about halfway through the cooking time, until the broccoli is tender and the tips and outer edges are crisp and browned, about 15 minutes. Serve right away with an extra squirt of lemon juice and a few pinches of sea salt.

Singapore Laksa

This post is written for the Woods, who have been excellent hosts to us when we went over to Buffalo, NY, for the ISI conference and to visit Niagara Falls. The Woods is a good example of an exemplary family who desires to seek after God’s heart.

Recently, we sent a box of Laksa sauce kit to them and thought they could whip up this Singaporean dish. It was really easy and in all, it took me one hour to do it. A shorter period of time is possible if you skip making the shredded chicken. But you do need the following ingredients:

       
Fish cake, sliced.

Hard-cooked eggs

Gently place the eggs in a saucepan and add tepid water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and place under cold running water until cool and peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise.

  
Fried bean curd, cut into halves

Other ingredients include rice noodles, bean sprouts and shredded chicken (this is optional). All these ingredients can be purchased from an Asian supermarket. I hope you have one in your area!

After you have done your mise en place, fill two saucepans with water. One for blanching the rice noodles and bean sprouts, the other for making the laska gravy.

 
Blanching of rice noodles. Follow the instructions on the pack.

Next, blanch the bean sprouts for about 5 to 10 seconds. Apportion the rice noodles and bean sprouts into individual bowls. Now, we will go on to make the Laksa gravy. Fill the other saucepan with about 2 3/4 cups of water. Add the Laksa Premix and mix well.

Do you know this is actually coconut powder? Next add in the Laksa Paste.

The Laksa Paste contains vegetable oil, chilli, shrimp, ginger, onion, shrimp paste, tumeric, laksa leaves and lemon grass. Mix well.

At this point, I add in the fried bean curd.

When you have all these steps ready, it’s a breeze from now on. All you need to do is to add the various ingredients and then pour the laksa gravy over them. That’s it. Singapore Laksa!

make a gif online
If you desire the more spicy version, you can add the packet of sambal chilli. Just a little will do. It is really spicy! This is mine after I made for Ken who doesn’t really fancy spicy food.

Below is the version that Ken’s auntie cooked for us (from scratch and without any sauce kit!) while we were in Singapore.

Yummy! Do try cooking it and have fun!
If you don’t have an Asian supermarket, just add hard-cooked eggs and shredded chicken. The replacement for the rice noodle is Italian Capellini.

Perfumed Pork Sausage

In case you’re wondering, nope, I didn’t add Chanel No. 5 in the patties. The fragrance comes from the lemongrass and it’s a refreshing moment as you combine the nine ingredients together. You can’t wait to cook them!

The picture doesn’t turn out well. My apologies. I’m not a pro photographer in the first place. Besides, I would rather spent the time savouring the pork sausage (doesn’t look like one) than taking perfect pictures.

As usual, I’m not brilliant when it comes to frying and some of them turned out charred even though I’ve replaced the oil after using it twice. Next time, I might try baking them. The amount of time for the frying is dependent on how thick your patties are. But, trust me, you have to try these. I like them!

Other ways to cook them:
1. Divide them into balls of about 1 inch and make a nice, warm soup complete with asparagus, carrots, dried seaweed and eggflower. Use chicken broth as the base soup and serve with rice.

2. Divide them into discs of diameter 2 inches and flatten them. Bake them in a 350F oven for 45 minutes.

Adapted from Eve: Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionelle
Serves 4

1 pound ground pork
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small stalk lemon grass, minced (about 1 1/2 tbsp)
1/4 cup coriander stems, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Light cooking oil

1. Combine first 9 ingredients gently in bowl being careful not to overwork or meat will bind up and become tight.

2. From a single tsp of mixture into a patty, season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook in a small saute pan with a little oil. Taste to determine whether the rest of the batch needs additional seasoning – adjust seasoning as needed, incorporating gently as to not overwork meat. (You can skip this step if you like).

3. Divide sausage mixture into 8 – 9 patties – first forming gently into balls and then flatten gently as to not overwork mixture.

4. Season patties with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat oil in a large saute  pan and saute until just cooked through – about 2-3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of the patties; I used 5 minutes per side).

Mint & Chocolate macarons

I’ve decided to stick to the methods in the macarons book that Yumi bought me because it has worked for me thus far. A few nights ago, I have made the filling which consists of fresh mint leaves infused in syrup first and then, chocolate. Nowadays, ingredients have to be prepared on separated days since it’s rather difficult to find long period of time to bake (busy).

Thankfully, this time round, there are feet and I suspect it has to be the macaronage that caused the downfall of my previous macarons. Too much stirring!

Desiring some designs on the shells, I used my silicon brush to add some strokes of green but I must say, the soft ones will give better result.

Mint and chocolate filling
25g fresh mint leaves
40g caster sugar
150g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Lightly crush the mint leaves between your hands and place in a small saucepan with the sugar and 100ml cup water. Slowly bring to the boil so that the sugar dissolves, then simmer gently for about 3 minutes. Remove fromt he heat and set aside to infuse for at least 1 hour.

2. Tip the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring the mint syrup back to the boil, then strain into the chipped chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth. Leave to cool and thicken slightly before using.

=)

Saturday. I’m feeling accomplished.

Organised A’s bridal shower in the morning and I certainly hope she enjoyed it.

Baked mint and chocolate macarons and they have feet! Yay! It must have been the macaronage.

Cut da man’s hair and I’m not unabashed to say that my skills have improved! Alas, I have no ambition to be a barber. I hope this is the last time I’m cutting his hair. He could have his haircut back in sunny S’pore in future!

Prepared my version of pad thai for dinner. Thank you Nat for teaching me how to cook it! The more authentic one’s here.

Thank you Lord for the strength to go through this day and week. It has been a really busy but terrific week. I’m glad it’s coming to an end though. I need rest, proper rest.

Sugar + Spice Brioche Buns

I forgot to mention that during yesterday’s class, Chef deep-fried some brioche dough (that was shaped) and then dipped them into cinnamon sugar. The result was soft, tasty donut-like goodies. All of us were hungry and some went without dinner to attend the baking class and it was much appreciated that we had them after a grueling four-hour rolling of dough.

And I remember I had a half batch of brioche dough in the freeze and since we need something for breakfast, I decided to bake sugar and spice brioche buns, something like yesterday’s donuts, just that they aren’t deep-fried but baked.

The recipe is from Flour and the 1/2 batch brioche recipe can be found here.
For the Sugar & Spice mixture:

1/2 recipe basic brioche dough
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup butter, melted

Remove dough from the refrigerator.

Line 10 cups of a stand 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or butter and flour them.

On a floured work surface, press or rolle the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 15 inches. It will have the consistency of cold play-doh and should be easy to work with. Using a bench scraper, chef’s knife, or pizza cutter, cut the rectangle into 10 equal strips, each about 1 by 5 inches. Cut each strip into 5 1-inch squares. You should have 50 1-inch squares of dough.

Place 5 squares of dough in each muffin cup. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the buns in the pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Brush the tops of the buns with melted butter and roll each bun the sugar mixture to coat.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. The can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 day and then warmed in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes before serving.