Sweet and sticky chicken

How’s first day of school for you?

For us, we have to adhere to a new routine since the girl is in afternoon session and that means she would have to do without a nap. Naturally, she came back tired and a little cranky. The boy was disrupted in his naps and that means…a fussy toddler.

4pm. I could sense their restlessness and I got a bit nervous. I know that I have to rush out dinner fast so that they could go to bed early.

Then I remember this dish which I have made and which I have forgotten to record after testing the recipe out. I made this sweet and sticky chicken years ago using honey but this time round, I decided to use Ribena and see if I could create a ‘new’ recipe with it. Thankfully, it really works well and the sweet and sticky chicken is a hit with the family.

In times when you have to churn out dinner fast, remember this recipe. You would need to marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours (which you can do so the night before). After that, it’s just putting the chicken into the oven and bake. Top it up with rice or quinoa and some greens on the side and you have a great meal. I’ve used the recipe on pork ribs too and they are equally delicious (at least, that’s what my guests told me).

Share Food Singapore made a video on this for chicken wings. Do take a look if you are interested (embedded in this post). Chicken wings are good on the menu for a party!

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Ingredients (feed 3 hungry pax)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar/ chiang kiang vinegar
1/4 cup ribena cordial
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, halved
3 chicken legs
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
corainder leaves for garnishing

1. Combine the balsamic vinegar, ribena cordial, brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic cloves in a large ziplock bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the ribena and the brown sugar. Add the chicken legss to the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 230C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil.

3. Remove the chicken legs from the bag, reserving the marinade and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the skin is caramelised and very dark in spots, 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes.

5. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.

6. Serve with quinoa or rice.

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With quinoa for the more health conscious me.

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And… rice for the rest of the family

 https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FShareFoodSingapore%2Fvideos%2F356055761432236%2F&show_text=0&width=560

😉

Chocolate Yuzu cupcakes

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It’s been a while. I used to bake for my cell group every single time (a privilege indeed) before the kids came along. I enjoy baking because I find it therapeutic and when I see smiles on folks’ faces, it gives me great delight.

But for a while now, I have not baked…regularly. I know that if I am frustrated, my food will not turn out well and I don’t want to be affected by it. My standmixer has been gathering dust for a good few weeks and calls out to be used. And since I had a ladies’ night gathering yesterday, I thought I should just start baking…something.

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It so happened that as I did my grocery via open taste this week, edible flowers were available. Excited much! I have wanted to work with flowers all the while but do not know where I can purchase them. So when I stumbled upon them, I knew I had to purchase!

So, with them on hand, I thought of the cakes I could bake in my current capacity and an all-time favourite came to mind. Just simple chocolate cupcakes that are easy to make. Yea, I cannot afford to bake complicated stuff nowadays. In fact, I baked these cupcakes as I carried the sleeping Dan in the carrier. So anything more complicated and I would get frustrated.

To top the cake sponge, I used Italian Meringue Buttercream, a recipe which I have tweaked to reduce the amount of sugar and butter, resulting in a lighter version. I think I could still cut down on the sugar but I would need time to experiment with it. For the flavour, I added about 1 tbsp of Yuzu concentrate and found that it pairs well with chocolate!

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Using the 1M tip, I piped a rose swirl and ended each rose with the edible flowers. Simple, just like that.

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Try it and let me know how you think?

Chocolate cupcakes ( yields about 16 cupcakes)

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2oog caster sugar
200g plain flour, sifted
40g Cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
240ml buttermilk (I add 1tbsp of vinegar to 240ml of milk and let it stand for 5 minutes)
2 large eggs ( I used 60g)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the cupcake tin with cases

2. In a mixer bowl, place the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed until all are fully mixed and the texture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. In a bowl, pour the buttermilk and add in the eggs. Then whisk the two together until properly mixed.

4. Pour 3/4 of the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.

5. Raise the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and thickens. Scrap down the sides of the mixer bowl regularly to ensure proper mixing.

6. Pour the remaining 1/4 milk-egg mixture into the batter and continue to beat on medium, until all the ingredients are fully mixed and the batter is smooth.

7. Spoon the batter into the cases until 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes, until the batter is risen and spring back when touched.

8. Leave the cupcakes to cool a little before removing them from the tin.

 

Italian Meringue Buttercream
150g fine sugar
60g water
4 egg whites
220g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch bits
1 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Pour the sugar into the water in a saucepan and let boil to 120C. Do not stir the sugar when boiling. Go on to step 2.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until it reaches the foamy stage.

3. When the temperature of the sugar syrup shows 115C, whisk the egg whites on high until stiff peak. When the sugar syrup reaches 12oC, turn down the speed of the mixer to speed 1 and then pour the syrup into the meringue (beaten egg whites by the side). Do it carefully in a steady stream. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer on high and whisk the egg whites until the sides of the mixer bowl no longer feels hot. This will take quite some time.

4. Once the meringue has cooled, turn the speed down to medium and add in the pieces of unsalted butter, one at a time. It will look like it has curdled but fear not, keep whisking and in the end, the buttercream will come together.

5. Lastly, add in the Yuzu concentrate and whisk it one last time so that it is mixed well in the buttercream.

Playdate + Chicken Stew = Comfort

I love playdates.

When Faith was younger, playdates gave me great relief from the mundane of everyday life with a young kid. I remember the first time Faith went for one with planned lesson, I was the more excited person. I could meet up with my friends at last! Apart from meeting up with friends to have a chit-chat session after the ‘lesson’, playdates enable us to observe how our children behave with their peers and track their development.

My SIL and I started to meet once weekly recently so that the children could have fun swimming together and enjoy their evening with some play time. When they were younger, they played alongside each other, not speaking much. Now, they were truly engaging each other in lively conversations and I  find myself amused by it. How they have grown!

Having playdates in the late afternoon means that I have to make sure that dinner is prepared before we set off so that when we return, we could come back to a decent meal. And, you know I love one-pot meal and I particularly like this chicken stew. I know, I know, chicken stew is so easy to make and there is really no need for a recipe. You just throw everything in the pot, cook and viola, you have one great meal!

Just for record’s sake.

Ingredients
400g chicken thighs (cut into smaller pieces)
2 sausages
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 carrots (cut into bit-sized pieces)
250g peas
500ml chicken stock
baby potatoes

  1. Empty the sausages out of the cases into a large pot.
  2. Cook the sausages for 2 to 3 minutes at medium heat until some of the juicy fat comes out of the sausage.
  3. Add the chopped onions and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until they have softened.
  4. Add the chicken thighs and cook until the chicken is no longer pink.
  5. Once the chicken is lightly cooked on both sides, add the chicken stock, peas, carrots and potatoes.
  6. Set the stovetop temperature to the lowest setting, put the pot lid on and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. Serve the chicken stew with rice.

Panda cookies

The other day I was at Isetan Scotts and saw a whole array of Bento tools and cookie cutters and I couldn’t help but purchase some of them. One of the sets that I bought was the panda cookie cutters and I thought I should experiment with using it before I get Faith to work on it.

This set comes with the explanatory notes but they are in nihon-go!! Thankfully, the pictures are easy to follow and understand. So I used my usual butter cookie recipe and did up a batch of these cute cookies.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (you may add other extract if you desire)
1 tsp charcoal powder

1. Sift the flour and salt together. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and icing sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the  vanilla extract and beat on low speed until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together in large clumps (midway through, I gave up and used hands instead as the dough stuck to my mixer).
3. Press the dough together into a ball and divide it into half. Add the charcoal powder to one of them and knead into a ball.
4.Place each dough between two sheets of parchment paper and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough about 6mm thick. Place them in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes to firm up. I place mine in the freezer.

5. Working with the charcoal dough first, use the black cutter to cut out the base of the panda. Place them on the parchment paper/ silpat in the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator.

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6. Next, bring out the normal dough and cut out the other details. This part is a bit tricky. I find that when I press the cutters too hard for the eyes and nose, they will crack. So I compress the cutter slightly onto the dough and use toothpick to carve out the eyes.

After that, cut out the head and place it on the body. You have to do it quick since the dough softens fast.

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Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170C.

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They take a long time to do and I think it’s not suitable for Faith to work on; I will get exasperated! So bake for about 12 – 15 minutes depending on your oven.

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Ta-da! There’s definitely room for improvement but I will have to wait till the kids aren’t around when I make these again. I was babywearing Dan while making these so the quality is not that good.

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Dan wants his share too!

Happy Tuesday!

Charcoal Chiffon Cake

The boy is turning 9 months old and is becoming more independent. Of course he’s been rather active with all the crawling around and pulling out of stuff from the shelves. Still, it’s manageable. The girl is back to school and we have our routines rather established. These days, when I’m in the kitchen, I would deploy the help of the girl to look after her brother and more often than not, she would gladly do so.

So the mind began to wander and I started to wonder if I should go back to baking, to do some freelance work or to start a small online business. I’m not saying that I have a lot of pockets of free time. In fact, I have often been stretched. But I do need to do something else apart from the mundane of household chores and teaching the kids. I need to continue to hone my skills, to be current and to continue to use the language in both spoken and written form to communicate with adults. Being a SAHM for the past four years has reduced my vocabulary by quite a fair bit and I can’t let this go on.

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And I started baking. A chocolate cake. But when I was about to dress it up, the chocolate ganache melted terribly in the heat. That day, the boy suddenly developed fever, a low grade one of 38C and then hit 38.8C in the afternoon. Must be the effect of teething. Throughout the night, his temperature soared and we kept sponging him and resorted to giving him paracetamol in the end.

The girl? She developed a cough and did so through the night.

All my wandering thoughts came to a halt that day. Is this a sign? Is Someone telling me to stay focussed on what I’m doing? 

I have no answer.

Nevertheless, I went on to bake a charcoal chiffon cake because I had promised to bring a cake to a gathering. At least, this turned out awesome, all thanks to the wonderful recipe by Chef Yamashita.

So I’m reminded that in life, there are often no easy answers. However, we can always pray and wait for His directions for us.

That being said, this black beauty is truly worth your time baking. I gave some to my mom and she called the following day and asked me if I had bought or baked it. This is coming from a food critic, mind you.

So, if you need some firm answers in life, bake this cake. This recipe is taken from Chef Yamashita’s cookbook – Tanoshii Ke-Ki.

Charcoal Chffon cake (with slight adaptations from original recipe)

(A)
90g cake flour
3g baking powder
10g charcoal powder

(B)
4 egg yolks
30g castor sugar
40g virgin coconut oil
70g Hokkaido milk

(C) Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

:: I used eggs that weigh 55g each
:: I placed the chiffon tin on the lower third of the oven.
:: Charcoal powder can be purchased from Alin Bakery House.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together (A) cake flour, baking powder and charcoal powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare (B) egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add coconut oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Prepare (C) meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.img_1982
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue into egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.Slice to serve.

Best blueberry muffins

I have tried a few recipes for blueberry muffins and nothing came close to this particular one. When I first looked at the title, I was a tad skeptical. Best blueberry muffins? I understand that tastebuds differ from person to person and to term a recipe the best can be a bit too bold. But as usual, I’m curious and took this opportunity to get the girl to bake with me.

As with many recipes that I’ve tried, I tend to reduce the amount of sugar. And I prefer to use raw sugar instead of caster sugar. And I feel, the key to this recipe is to use a lot of blueberries; don’t save on these fruits. Another point to note: dry them completely after you washed them.

To create a tangy taste, I added the zest of one lemon.

Ingredients:
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs (approx. 55 – 60 g each)
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup (130 g) caster sugar (I used raw sugar)
1 stick (115 g) unsalted butter – soften at room temperature
½ cup (120 ml) milk
2¼ cups (250g) fresh blueberries

Zest of one lemon

Topping:
2 tbsp raw sugar – sprinkle on top

Makes 12 muffins

Preheat your oven to 190°C.


Line your muffin tin with 12 muffin liners. The little one could surely assist at this stage. Remember to get her to count!

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer for 2 mins, until pale and fluffy.


Add in one egg at a time and beat until well incorporated. Scrap down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add in the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat a low speed, follow by 1/3 of the milk. Alternate the flour and milk until both are well incorporate into the batter. Mix until just combined and do not over mix.



Add in the blueberries and use a spatula to fold into the batter gently.

Scoop a big dollop of the batter into each muffin liner, filling them to almost the top.


Sprinkle generously the raw sugar on top of each muffin and bake for 25 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.


Let them cool in the pan for 10 mins before removing.

It’s almost certain that there will always be some heart-stopping moments when you are baking with little ones. Batter poured out of the mixing bowl, sugar sprinkled unto the floor, etc. I’ve to constantly remind myself that she’s still working on her motor skills and I need to be more gracious. Not easy, especially for a person who likes her kitchen to be clean and neat.

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I really do like this recipe. The muffins turn out soft and moist and not too sweet. In fact, the sweetness comes more from the blueberries than the sugar. The mom aka critical good reviewer came and I offered her one. Got her 👍👍 for this recipe.


Perhaps you might want to bake this with your kids as well? 😉 Happy baking!

 

Ke-ki delight with Chef Yamashita @Bosch

[Event invite]

You know I love baking. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to share baked goods with loved ones and it always brings a smile to my face when the aroma of those delicious products fill the kitchen. What is more delightful is the chance to meet a renowned chef and to brush shoulders with him.

Last Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to attend the launch of famed pâtissier Chef Yamashita’s third recipe book – “Tanoshii Ke–Ki” – at Bosch Experience Centre and learn how to bake a Yuzu Chiffon Cake from the great baking master himself.

chefyamashita[Credit: Bosch]

Chef Yamashita is such an affable chef and also a funny one. He put all of us at ease as he spoke in Japanese the steps to making the Yuzu Chiffon Cake. Of course, we were able to understand his instructions as he had a translator working alongside him.

A few pointers to note as he showed us the steps:

:: Sift the flour once or twice to aerate it.
:: When preparing the egg yolk batter, you need to add the olive oil really gradually, just like how you make home-made mayonnaise. Do not rush this step to prevent splitting.
:: When the batter is ready, pour it a portion at a time, using a bench scraper if you have. This is to prevent air bubbles to be introduced.

Don’t know what I’m talking about since you don’t have the recipe? No worries! Chef Yamashita has kindly agreed to share it with you!

In Bosch Experience Centre where this event was held, we could see for ourselves how machines can help to make life easier for us. Say, the MaxxiMUM kitchen machine, for example, it could beat the egg whites on all sides of the bowl and its SensorControl could automatically detect the ideal stiffness of the egg whites. Cool eh? And the oven? It’s even smarter with all the different kinds of settings that are available including steaming! You can take a trip down to experience all these cool kitchen gadgets when you are free.

I tell you, the Yuzu Chiffon is simply tantalising. Soft and not overly sweet and more importantly, you could really taste the yuzu. You have to try baking it!

 We were also treated to his lovely Sakura roll cake and Castella cake, a popular Japanese honey spongecake which was originally introduced by the Portuguese merchants to Nagasaki area in the 16th century.

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Flipping through Chef Yamashita’s third book, I realised they are easy to bake Japanese-inspired French confections. They range from his signature sponge, chiffon and mousse cakes to egg-free treats so that everyone can recreate these easy-to-follow cake recipes in their own homes. I’m really excited and tempted to bake all of them!

For a start, why don’t you try your hands on this Yuzu Chiffon Cake?

Ingredients:
120g pastry flour
3g baking powder

Egg yolk batter
4 egg yolks
40g castor sugar
45g olive oil
30g milk
85g honey yuzu tea syrup

Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

Chantilly cream (optional)
400g whipping cream
20g castor sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together pastry flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add olive oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Add honey yuzu tea and mix again. Set aside.
  4. Prepare meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.
  9. Prepare Chantilly cream. Using an electric mixer, whisk whipping cream and sugar at high speed util medium soft peaks form.
  10. Decorate cake with Chantilly carea,, fresh fruit, chocolate balls, dollops of honey yuzu tea syrup and biscuits crumbs if desired.
  11. Refriegerate for 30 minutes before serving. Consume within a day.

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Chef Yamashita Masataka trained at the Tsuji Culinary Institute, a well-known and respected culinary institute in Osaka, Japan. He gained experience working at various patisseries around Japan for a decade before starting his own patisserie in Nara, which quickly became one of the top patisseries there. Eight years later, yearning for new challenges and a change of scenery, che Yamashita moved to Singapore where he took charge of the kitchen at Patisserie Glace, turning it into a haven for delightful cakes and pastries. Chef Yamashita soon saw an opportunity to revive his patisserie from Japan and re-established Flor Patisserie at Duxton Hill, Sigapore. Today, chef Yamashita runs his own highly successful Japanese artisan patisserie at Tanjong Pagar Plaza, aptly named Chef Yamashita.  He is also appointed as brand ambassador for Bosch Home Appliances.

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Foodie Fridays | Five spice chicken

I hardly post recipes nowadays. It’s not because I seldom cook. On the contrary, I churn out meals almost every day (except the weekends) for both lunch and dinner. It’s just that I have been cooking the usual stuff that it seems unnecessary to record it here. Even if I had wanted to blog about the recipes, I wouldn’t have the time to come up with exact measurement for them since everything is by aga aga (to estimate).

But I do constantly look out for recipes that are easy and uncomplicated. If I can help it, I would stir-fry less and steam my food more often. It’s healthier but more importantly, it saves me the effort to have to clean my kitchen properly (I’m quite particular about having a clean kitchen).

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One fine day, I came across this recipe and it didn’t take me long to experiment with it. It’s a total winner! All you need to do is to marinate the chicken thighs for at least a day (up to 2 days) and bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add them to your bowl of rice and top it with some blanched leafy vegetables and you will have a hearty and delicious meal!

This recipe is for keeps.
(Adapted from here)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon  honey
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 large clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice
  • 3 boneless skin-on chicken thighs

Directions

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  1. Whisk together the dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, oyster sauce, garlic and five spice powder in a small bowl until well combined.
  2. Pour this marinade over the chicken thighs, flipping them over several times to coat evenly and marinate for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to roast the chicken, prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 200 C. 
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the sheet pan, skin-side up. Reserve the marinade for basting.
  5. Roast the chicken for 6 minutes, and then brush the tops with some of the remaining marinade.
  6. Continue roasting for another 6-8 minutes, or until the edges are lightly charred.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serve on top of the rice.

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Try it!

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.

Coconut bread roll

Last week, my friend, T, invited us to her place and got the little ones to help with baking bread roll. I must say it was fun and the bread delicious and the thick-skinned me got her to share the recipe with me. She got it via a Chinese app and since my Chinese isn’t that good, she translated the ingredients and their quantity for me. I finally got down to baking it this morning so here’s a record of it.

Bread dough

250g bread flour
30g castor sugar
2g salt
3.5g yeast
40g egg
50g whipping cream
75g milk (slightly warm so that it can activate the yeast)
15g unsalted butter at room temperature

I didn’t have the bread maker and did the dough using the standmixer with the dough hook. Basically place all the ingredients together except for the butter and mix together. When they are mixed well, add in the butter and continue to knead until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the mixer bowl. Then run the window pane test.

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Once it’s ready, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and let it proof for about 40 min to 1 hour or until it has increased to double the volume.

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While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the next set of ingredients – the coconut spread.

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70g coconut flakes (from Cold Storage)
40g egg
25g castor sugar
15g milk powder
10g unsalted butter at room temperature

Mix all the above ingredients together except for the coconut flakes.

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The recipe given recommended using a cake tin that measures 27.6 x 17.8cm but I just use whatever tin or baking tray I have.

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Roll the dough into a rectangular shape and spread the mixture onto the dough.

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Sprinkle the coconut flakes on top of the mixture evenly and then roll the dough from the furthest end to the one nearest to you.

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Cut the dough into 12 pieces and place them onto the baking tray.

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After this, let it proof for about 20 minutes. Do allow some space in between each roll as they will expand when they are being baked. Meanwhile, switch on the oven to 180C.

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Before placing the tray into the oven, I did an egg wash with the remaining amount of egg. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

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So, that’s lunch for today. Thanks, Trisa for sharing the recipe! I hope I have translated correctly!

Some photos from that day…

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😉

 

Baking with a toddler | Blueberry muffins

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Young children are fickle-minded when it comes to food. Sometimes, they might like a certain food to bits and then all of a sudden, they declare that they hate it. Faith used to be able to gobble up a bowl of blueberries all by herself and then one fine day, she rejected them. It’s frustrating, to say the least. And I so wanted her to appreciate this fruit again.

So, to get her to consume them again, I have to hide the blueberries. Since we were running out of food for breakfast, I thought I might as well bake a batch of blueberry muffins.

The recipe is taken from Hummingbird Bakery whose Red Velvet Cake I like. However, I replaced the sugar with raw sugar and cut down the amount to 1 cup. The end result is that the muffins aren’t too sweet but that’s fine by me. ,

I also find that the toddler is more willing to eat what she has helped to bake and when she consumed the muffin this morning, she was happy and exclaimed that it was delicious. Effort paid off!

This batch yields about 18 muffins and they are obviously too much for our small family. Well, we can always freeze the rest for future consumption. The next time I bake these muffins, I might add a tablespoon of lemon zest just to enhance the taste. 😉

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2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
70g unsalted butter, melted
2 cups of blueberries

Yields about 18 muffins if you are using a standard-sized cupcake tin

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed.
  3. Put the buttermilk, egg and vanilla into a bowl and mix to combine. Slowly pour the flour mixture and beat until just IMG_3231incorporated.
  4. Pour in the melted butter and beat until the butter has just been incorporated, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the dough is even and smooth.
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries with a wooden spoon until even dispersed.
  6. Spoon the batter into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the muffins cool slightly in the pan before turning out into a wire rack to cool.

Baking with a toddler

This is not so much a post about a recipe but thoughts about spending time with Faith on a one-to-one basis. Quality time, so they say. You might be surprised and ask, “But you are a SAHM! Of course, you should be able to spend more time with her!” That is true, of course, except that there are dishes to clear, toilets to clean, floors to mop and meals to prepare, just to name a few. And all these take time.

However, as I take a step back, I realise that Faith desires to work on stuff together with me, remembers those incidents and narrates them in her own way. She actually enjoys those activities! So, I’ve decided household chores can wait a wee bit and start focusing on building wonderful memories for her by getting her involved in the KITCHEN.

If you know me, I love baking and cooking and I think such an interest can be felt by the little one. She observes me daily in the kitchen and then recently, keeps telling me, “I want to see Mama doing.” I believe the hands-on baking workshop at the Colgate event and the recent cookie baking and decorating session I had with her have fueled her interest.

I might as well get her involved then. Which turns out to be really awesome.

So our recent project is to bake some savoury cupcakes together. To be honest, they are not the most delicious but I guess they are nutritious enough for the little one. I packed in salmon and spinach in it but I think adding bacon would really enhance the flavour (but I try not to use processed meat).

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What you would need
:: 1 1/4 cups of organic unbleached plain flour
:: 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
:: 1 cup grated vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, chopped vegetables, etc
:: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
:: 50g cooked salmon or chicken meat, finely chopped
:: 1 egg
:: 1/4 cup of milk
:: 50g unsalted butter, melted
:: olive oil or butter to grease the pan

** Original recipe from Beanstalk magazine (the magazine for early childhood practitioners and parents)

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease the cupcake pan with olive oil or butter.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. I got Faith to do this step and nearly fainted because her aiming is really bad but I had to put on a calm and joyous front.

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3. Add grated veggies, meat and cheese. Toss well to mix.

4. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and butter together.

image5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones, stir until just combined. Do not overmix as your cupcakes will be tough.

6. Spoon into the cupcake pan. I used a mini cupcake pan as mini ones can be easily handled by the little girl when she’s consuming them.

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7. Spoon into the cupcake pan.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 25 minutes for the regular-sized cupcakes or until golden brown. insert a toothpick into one of the cupcakes. if baked through, the toothpick will come out clean.

I must say I was nervous the whole time Faith handled the equipment. I don’t really welcome mess but we all know it is inevitable especially when working with young kids since their grip and coordination skills are not there yet. I have to remind myself to have fun with her.

An attitude of fun creates a positive atmosphere.

image{via SunshineInkStudio from etsy}

Apart from that concern, it is really a worthwhile activity to work on. As we baked, we conversed and i told her the names of the various ingredients and methods like whisking, stirring, pouring, etc and she could remember them! What a useful practical lesson!

I believe we would do more of such activities again. Why don’t you do so with your kids too? 😉

Easy and delicious recipes that we could work on together (for now):

:: Mini quiche

:: Broccoli, cheese and mushroom easy pies

:: Pizza

:: Pasta pies

So, stay tuned!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all wonderful moms out here! This year’s has been especially meaningful because Faith could articulate that greeting to me as she handed me a card she made from school ( with the teachers’ help, of course) and the lollipop flower that she received from Kids’ Church. It really warmed my heart as she ran towards me with the gift and said a Happy Mother’s Day to me. *heart melted* imageBeing a parent is tough. I mean, no one prepares us for that. In a way, we are thrown into that role but thankfully, we can always draw reference from our own parents and fellow moms and dads who are good role models. This year, for Mother’s Day, I got Faith to bake some sugar cookies and involved her in decorating them, just for the fun of it. It does promise a messy kitchen and table but the most important thing is she had fun. image To make the cookies, you need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar ( I used a little less than that)
1/2 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven at 175C before baking.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to cream until they are mixed well.

4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the wet mixture a little at a time until it is completely mixed in.

5. Place the cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to a thickness of 0.5cm (or your desired thickness).

6. Chill for about 2 hours so that it will be easier to cut out the cookies using the cutters.

7. Cut out the dough using cookie cutters.

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8. Bake at 175C for about 10 minutes or until the edge starts to turn brown. Do place the cookies of the same size together on the sheet pan when you bake. This is to ensure consistency in baking of the cookies. imageAfter the cookies are baked and cooled, I got Faith to spread the surface with a little of the strawberry jam.

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Thereafter, I used edible flowers and got Faith to smell them. She would have to sprinkle the flowers onto the cookies and then you would have decorated cookies! Simple?

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Pandan Kaya Cake Roll

 20150414_141458Recently, I went on a mission to look for recipes on Pandan Kaya Cake Roll and boy, did I have fun! The swiss roll is easy to make and bakes fast. So if you have the Kaya jam on hand, a dessert can easily be made.

Firstly, let me show you how to make pandan juice.

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Pandan leaves can be bought from the wet market or the supermarket for less than a dollar for a packet. Cut the blades into smaller pieces and place them in your blender/chopper. Add about 3/4 cup of water into the blender if you intend to use up the whole lot of pandan leaves from a whole packet. After the blender has done its work, pour the juice through a sieve and squeeze the juice from the leaves as well.

To make the Pandan Kaya jam, you would need the following:

200ml coconut milk
2 large eggs
50g sugar
2tbsp pandan juice
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp plain flour
3 blades of pandan leaves
(If you prefer a stronger pandan flavor, add 1/4tsp of pandan paste.)

Steps:

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1. Mix coconut milk, eggs, corn flour, plain flour and pandan juice together until well combined.

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2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, add in sugar and pandan leaves.

3. Cook over low fire and stir constantly until mixture thicken. (Do not overcook.  Once kaya is too thick, it will turn lumpy and will be difficult to spread on the cake). The trick is to keep stirring! Discard pandan leaves and set aside to cool.

:: I have tried a few variations to making the Kaya jam. To make a healthier version, I used brown sugar instead of caster sugar and the flavour is more intense. There is also a difference if you use the pandan paste and pandan flavour. The pandan paste will give you a green kaya jam (pic on the left) whereas when I added the pandan flavour, the colour is more natural. So it really depends on your preference.

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Making the sponge roll is easy and for this following recipe, the steps require that you separate the egg yolk from the egg whites. This requires more work, of course. I have added another way to making the roll in which you use the whole egg. for the second recipe, you will yield half the amount of the first recipe.

Sponge Roll
Ingredients:

3 egg whites
70g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
45g cake flour
10g corn flour
1/4tsp salt
40g vegetable oil
1/3tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside. My tray measures 24cm by 16cm by 3cm. If you use a bigger tray, then the roll will turn out thinner. But that should be fine.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.

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4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the egg whites until foamy.

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5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

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6. Switch mixer speed to medium and slowly add in egg yolks and pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the veg. oil into the batter until well blended.

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9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10. Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the tray you use. 

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11. When it’s done, the surface gives a nice golden brown look. Remove the sponge roll from the tray and cool on a rack with the skin facing up.

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I let the cake roll rest for about 5 to 8 minutes before I assemble. I find that if I wait longer, it will be difficult to roll and cracks will form.

Assembling the cake roll:

1. Carefully transfer the cake onto a greaseproof paper with the skin facing down.

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2. Spread pandan kaya on the cake.

3. Gently roll the cake by using the paper to lift the cake and to guide the roll.

4. Rest the roll in the fridge to stabilize its shape.

5. Remove, slice and serve.

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For an easier method and a smaller portion, the following works for me, using the size of the tray which I had mentoned earlier.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
35g caster sugar
25g cake flour
5g rice flour/corn flour
pinch of salt
20g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.image

4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the eggs until foamy.

5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till the colour turns to pale yellow.

6. Switch mixer speed to medium and add in pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the vegetable oil into the batter until well blended.

9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10.Bake in a preheated oven for 10mins.

Have fun baking!
I used and experimented with the recipe from happyflour.blogspot.sg and she has an awesome collection of good recipes!

Protected: Croquettes, Queks’ version

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Frozen themed chocolate cupcakes

Frozen is still very much a popular theme for birthday cakes! Just recently, I did some Frozen toppers for the cupcakes at the requests of my friend and I’m still wondering when this craze will be over.

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A few days before the collection day, I made the toppers and it took me about 1.5 hours to do just the Olaf and the snowflakes! I must be taking my own sweet time! How frustrating!

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I baked some some vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for this batch and top each cupcakes with Italian meringue buttercream. Would love to add in a scoop of jam or ganache in the cupcakes but decided against anything too fanciful for the time being.

Chocolate cupcakes ( yields about 18 cupcakes)

80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g caster sugar

200g plain flour, sifted

40g Cocoa powder, sifted

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

240ml buttermilk (I add 1tbsp of vinegar to 240ml of milk and let stand for 5 minutes)

2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line the cupcake tin with cases

2. In a mixer bowl, place the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed until all are fully mixed and the texture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. In a bowl, pour the milk and add in the eggs. Then whisk the two together until properly mixed.

4. Pour 3/4 of the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined.

5. Raise the speed to medium and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and thickens. Scrap down the sides of the mixer bowl regularly to ensure proper mixing.

6. Pour the remaining 1/4 milk-egg mixture into the batter and continue to beat on medium, until all the ingredients are fully mixed and the batter is smooth.

7. Spoon the batter into the cases until 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes, until the batter is risen and spring back when touched.

8. Leave the cupcakes to cool a little before removing them from the tin.

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I pipe roses onto the cupcakes using tip 1M.

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For a few of the cupcakes that are to be decorated with the snowflakes, I sprinkled some sugar on it. The sprinklers are just brown sugar + a little royal blue colouring.

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And that’s it! Of the three characters, I think Olaf looks more like himself whereas the other two characters look like erm… ordinary girls?

Pizza lunch date and a mushroom soup recipe

Every so often, I would plan a lunch date with my sister and we would prepare some fun stuff for the kids to work on for their lunch. Previously, it was sushi and this time round, I thought of having pizza. Obviously, the base (bread dough) has to be prepared by the adults and the children would just need to place the toppings of their choice onto the dough.

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It was just like that. Simple. Obviously, Faith needed a little guidance but there’s nothing too difficult about ‘throwing’ ingredients onto the base.

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Love how the kids were watching intently as I put some mozzarella cheese on top. The little one wanted to help as well.

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Our homemade pizza.

Besides the pizza, I prepared mushroom soup as well. Nope, not campbell soup although that would save me lots of time. I personally prefer those that has a lot of mushrooms in it. The more variety, the better. The following mushroom soup recipe will take up some time and effort but the end result is all worth it, especially if you are a mushroom lover like Faith and me!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (adapted from Easy Recipes by Christine Ho)

200g Portobello mushroom
150g of a mixture of brown and white button
50g of shittake mushroom
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup [homemade] chicken stock
1 cup water
80 ml cooking cream/whipping cream ( use whatever amount you are happy with)

[Thickening]
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp water

1. Wipe the mushroom clean and cut into big pieces. Set aside. (Good quality mushrooms only need to be cleaned with a wet cloth before cooking. If you really want to rinse with water, make sure you do not soak them in water for too long since they tend to soak up lots of water, thus affecting the taste of the dish).

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2. Heat a heavy-based saucepan. Add butter and vegetable oil. When the butter starts to melt, add the chopped garlic. Stir-fry until fragrant. Add mushrooms and stir-fry over medium-high heat. The mushrooms will absorb the fats very quickly. Do take note.

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3. Add chicken stock and water. Bring to boil. Cover the saucepan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

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4. Turn the heat off and let it cool slightly. Drain the mushrooms and puree using the food processor (mine is a chopper) in two batches. Return to the saucepan and warm over medium heat.

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5. Add cream. Adding the cream is the key to producing the creamy smoothness of this soup. I didn’t add all of the 80ml since I want it less ‘sinful’ because the little ones would be having it. ;p Do stir well!

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6. When it starts to boil, stir in the thickening. Cook to desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with croutons.

It does seem like a lot of work but when it first take a spoonful, you will find that the effort is all worth it. Try it and see if you like this version of the mushroom soup. This recipe is adapted from Christine Ho’s Easy Recipes and I really do like the recipes found in that cookbook/ website.

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!

Foodie Friday | On Fussy Eaters and Chocolate Almond Cupcakes

[This post contains a discount code on all book purchases at NoQ Store].

I haven’t been blogging about Faith’s 16th and 17th month’s progress. She is growing well. However, if there is one thing that really bothers me, it would be the fact that she has developed pickiness in foods.

Naturally, I’m concerned because she used to be a voracious eater and was willing to try ALL sorts of food. She loved to eat but all of a sudden, she decided that her favorite salmon isn’t going to be part of her diet and that she currently goes for bread more. She can articulate 面 包 (bread) really clearly by the way and she keeps repeating it until it irks you. She quite dislikes most forms of meat which is a cause of concern for me. Feeding her can sometimes be a chore and frustrates me to the core because she will spit out the food that is offered to her. I can almost hear my innermost being scream “NO!!!!”.

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She loves fishballs, Char Siew Pau (BBQ bun), bread, biscuits and fruits and doesn’t mind vegetables. But I can’t always feed these to her all the time. Issues of picky eating are related to how the child’s taste buds function. The five different taste buds have different levels of sensitivity, with one of those taste buds typically extra sensitive to a particular flavour. That is often the major factor in the emergence of pickiness and why some kids don’t like certain strong flavours in some vegetables or meats. The important thing is to keep trying the food with the little one, perhaps by varying the temperature or texture of the food, or by combining it with other foods that she likes.

And I did that.

I subscribe to how the French bring up the kids with reference to food, that we have to keep getting the kiddo to try the food because a child can’t be determined to dislike a particular food until they have tried it at least a dozen times. I am also aware that between the age of 12 to 24 months, it is actually the time to introduce the widest range of foods, colours, textures and flavours to a kid and is said to be the decisive year when what a kid eats will shape her eating habits for the rest of her life.

*Alarmed*

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Thankfully I stumbled upon this book which contains 300 easy-to-make meals. There aren’t a lot of beautiful photos of meals but when you really read the contents and look through the varied meals found in there, you realised that you are in for a treat. A lot of the recipes contain salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, seaweed and eggs, among others, *think high DHA Omega-3 fatty acids*, and I love how the author creates meals using ingredients found all over the world. It’s education for me too!

I went on to try and adapt some of the recipes. I find myself being inspired to create those dishes which are easy to prepare.

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My stir-fried macaroni with salmon and seaweed is inspired by her buckwheat noodle soup with seaweed and salmon while the steamed tofu meatballs are inspired by her sesame chicken with tofu and seaweed. There are so many other recipes that I want to try like Norwegian fish cakes, quinoa soup with cod and coconut mango millet bake, just to name a few.

The following is a Chocolate almond cupcakes recipe. The original recipe uses sesame seeds. Since I cannot be entirely sure if Faith is allergic to sesame seeds, I have switched it to ground almond. Thankfully, Faith likes them! They are not really sweet and for a while, I thought the little one would reject! Phew!

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Ingredients:20140428_141748
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup ground almond
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Slivered almond for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 190 C.

2. Prepare muffin tray with cupcake liners or use cupcake cases.

3. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, flaxseeds, sesame, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, brown sugar and vanilla until well-blended and smooth.

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5. Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg mixture and mix well.

6. Fill each cup 2/3 full with the batter and then sprinkle each with a few slivered slmond.

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7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, and let cool.

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Just for you, dear readers: noq
If you are interested in this book or any other books, you can get them from NoQ Store. You will be entitled to an exclusive 15% discount on all purchases at NoQ Store when you use code LYNNLLY at the checkout. This discount is valid until 31 July 2014.
Nope, I’m not paid to advertise for this book. I just find it useful and want to share it with you! But we did get a few books for Faith via NoQ Store since they are more reasonably priced than the ones at the bookstores. Go on, get yourselves some books! 😉

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Reference: 
Shino, M. (2012). Smart bites for Baby: 300 easy-to-make, easy-to-love meals that boost your baby and toddler’s brain. Da Capo Press, Boston, MA.
Loh, C.G. (2013). Parenting without borders. Surprising lessons parents around the world can teach us. Avery.

Japanese Strawberry cake (again!)

This is a continuation from the previous post.

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After looking through various sources, I adapted Ochikeron’s recipe and baked an 8″ strawberry cake for a birthday girl. The recipe would have been great for a 6″ cake but since an 8″ is being called for, I have to bake sponge base twice which is not too much of a problem since the recipe is rather straight forward.  I would see if I could double the portion the next time I bake an 8″ strawberry cake.

For now…

Cake base (I made twice for 8″ cake)
2 eggs ( I used 55g egg) @ room temperature
60g caster sugar
60g top flour, sifted
20g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

Syrup
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
20ml very hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream
300ml non-dairy whipping cream (I used Phoon Huat’s; this amount is more than enough and I have left over)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries (depending on how you decorate the cake)
– for the sandwich layer, slice off the tops and cut into 0.5cm thickness
– for decorations on top, all up to you!

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Beat eggs and sugar over a bain-marie (hot water bath) until the mixture warms up. I used my finger to test. A little warmth is good enough. This is to dissolve the sugar and by adding heat to the egg mixture, more air can be incorporated easily when the mixture is whipped. Remove the mixture from the bain-marie and continue beating the egg mixture till it triples in volume and turns very pale (almost white). I use my standmixer which saves a lot of time and effort!

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2. Towards the last 2 to 3 minutes, beat on the lowest speed. By reducing the speed of the mixer, a stable egg mixture with fine foam is obtained and less volume is lost when the flour is folded in. When the egg mixture has reached the “ribbon stage”, sift in the flour a little at a time in 3 stages. Cut through the mixture with a wire whisk after each addition.

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3. Sprinkle the cooled melted butter over the batter and fold in using a spatula. Take care not to over-mix the batter.

4. Pour the batter from a height of 30cm into a lined tin. Towards the end, pour the remaining batter to one side of the tin.

5. Lift the tin and drop it gently onto the table top twice to eliminate air bubbles.

IMG_91956. Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes. While it bakes, make the simple syrup solution. Dissolve 1/2 tbsp sugar in 20ml of very hot water. Then add the vanilla extract. Stir to mix well and set aside.

7. When the cake is done, turn it onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool with the pan covering it. Wrap using clingwrap when it is completely cooled if you do not intend to frost the cake on the same day (the cake keeps for 2 to 3 days, refrigerated). Otherwise, proceed to slice the cake in half, horizontally.

8. To make the cream, whip the cream and vanilla extract (preferably in a metal bowl) sitting over an ice bath. In the video, she whips till soft peaks form. For me, I whip till stiff peaks are formed. But don’t overwhip! Use instantly or keep it chilled in the fridge, covered, at all times.

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9.Now, brush sugar syrup onto the first layer of the cake (sliced side). This keeps the sponge cake nice and moist.

10. Spread a layer of cream and then top with the cut strawberries. Add another layer of cream over the strawberries.

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11. Brush the remaining layer of cake (sliced side) with sugar syrup, then place it on top of the strawberries and cream. Proceed to frost and decorate the entire cake.

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My initial design was this but I find it a tad too plain for an 8″ cake. Then I redesigned and decided that each slice should have a strawberry and since I’m supposed to pipe some birthday message on it, I used two pieces of dark chocolate and pipe the wordings on them. Royal icing will smudge on the cream so I would have to resort to this method. Not the most beautiful but well, this shows that the cake is home-baked! 😉

12. Keep the cake chilled until time of serving. The colder the cake, the easier it is to cut (and the yummier it is to eat!).

IMG_9224Packed and delivered!

Source: The Little Teochew & Okashi by Keiko Ishida
The video, again.