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Aubergine with Fragrant Topping

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Katrika, in Tamil means aubergine/brinjal/eggplant.
And when they call u "Gundu Katrika", it means u're a fat brinjal.

Fat and brinjal seems to be the pair when it comes to calling people fat in Tamil. They dun call people "Gundu Pandee", fat pig. My friends will only yell at rascals "Pandee" when they pull their hair or do something very irritiating to them. Guess it's very different from the Chinese that likes to call people with huge mass, pigs. Why do I know abt this gundu katrika thing??? Cos my friend, "Pache Taukele"(Green Frog) likes to call me that back in my schooling days. If u're reading this, Taukele, u know I'm talking about u!!!

It's been a long long time since I've made this.
The aubergines/brinjals/eggplants or whatever u may call it are boiled, therefore it's healthier.
It's a very appetizing dish :)

Step by step recipe here

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Easy Assam Laksa

Friday, February 26, 2010


From my last assam laksa post, I said I’ll be doing an easy version next time.

Not that the taste will be vastly different, but the method. A much easier one.
Read on and u’ll know

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1 can (425gm) canned sardines , buy the brand u love to eat, discard the gravy.
2 torch ginger buds (bunga kantan)
2 thick lemon grass, 3 if they’re thin. These that I used were almost as thick as my thumb. (use 4 inches from the base, discard the rest)
1 large onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled (left out this from the pic)
Few sprigs of daun kesum (laksa leaves, or u can try to substitute with Thai basil/hot basil. The smell will be slightly different)
30 gm chilli powder (I used 2 X15gm Alagappa’s Chilli powder, some brands may be hotter, so do not use the whole amount straightaway. Korean brands might be hotter)
20 gm chilli belacan powder (1 small pack Chung Kim Chuan brand, or u can use 15gm pure belacan powder)
200gm Tamarind paste (assam jawa paste, Adabi brand 1 whole container)
2 Ikan bilis cubes, or u can substitute with chicken bouillon cube. Fish stock will be ok too, just substitute with some of the water content.
1 heaped Tbsp salt
¼ cup sugar
2L + 3 cups +1 cup +1cup water.

1. Place 2L water in a medium pot(5L capacity) and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, slice torch ginger, lemon grass , onion and garlic. Place these in a blender. Put in 3 cups of water and puree till fine. Pour into the pot.
3. Remove sardines from tomato sauce and place in blender (no need to wash after ‘2’) and put in 1 cup of water and pulse few times. Pour into pot.
4. Rinse blender with 1 cup water and pour into pot.
5. Throw in whole sprigs of daun kesum (remove bases of course), tamarind paste, chilli powder, belacan powder and ikan bilis cubes into the pot. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Put in salt, and sugar. Taste. It should be slightly oversalted, mildly sweet and have a prominent sour taste. Adjust to ur own preference

This amount will produce about 4L of soup.


Serve :

Prepare 200gm noodles(lai fun or even spaghetti) for each person. Lightly blanch in boiling water. Strain noodles well and place in bowl .Ladle soup over noodles. Top with julienned cucumbers, onions, mint and red chilli. Adding hard boiled egg is a Malay way of eating "laksa". I feel so awkward calling this Assam Laksa as we all fondly call this as Laksa.
Are u drooling now????
Quick, go make ur own assam laksa!!!!!
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Castella Cake / Kasutera

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


This is one heck of a cake!! Not an easy feat!!!

How to say how difficult... hmmm. Ever tried making a sponge that won't deflate no matter how u beat in the flour??? Yes, beat. I didn't fold.

Many many months back, when I was still learning to make sponge cakes, I beat in the flour with my mixer. The result was a denser sponge, but it was still crumbly, just that I had a very short sponge. Maybe I should do that in order to achieve that flat fine crumb.

From what u see in this video, the batter was not handled lightly... u need muscles and bicep power all the way to the end. Beat Beat Beat!!!!! Do the MJ thing, beat it.

Ok, going back to the issue of it not deflating. Am I crazy??? Why do I want my batter to deflate??? Because, I'm getting so much volume and by experience I know, this cake will be so big and fluffy. Fluffy is not a good thing for castella. I want mine to look like the one on Ju's blog.No fluffiness is welcomed. (see pic on left, it's so fluffy!!!!)The original recipe called for 8 eggs, and it's supposed to fit into a 8 inch square pan, plus some cupcakes. Here, I've halved the recipe, but from the looks of my batter, mine can fit a 8 inch pan!!! U see how fluffy mine is?? Darn!!! And it won't deflate. So, I continue to beat and beat with my whisk so that it'll go down a bit, it did, a bit. So, now I put it into my 6.75 inch square pan. It's 80% full. I banged it few times, hoping it will deflate more. I thought the cake won't rise that much cos I didn't use any leavening. Boy was I wrong!!! So wrong!!!  I saw here that Ju used aluminium foil to tent her cake so that the top won't burn (stuff with honey browns much quicker, and my oven is not merciful when it comes to browning cake tops), so I tented it for the first 40 minute and left it uncovered for the last 15 minutes to brown. U know what??? Since my pan was so full, the cake rose and got stuck to the foil. When I tried to remove it, I did the cruelest thing ever to a cake, mar it's face. It looks so disfigured. I just went on to brown it.. and whew it looked just nice. I happily took it out. Quickly peeled off the side wrappers so that the cake will deflate(a little bit only). Sides look cooked, and very fluffy, but the centre felt wobbly. I stuck a tooth pick in, oh-no... uncooked. I put the whole cake back into my oven onto the microwave plate, hit "combination 4" to have it cooked throught using microwave+convection functions. I did it for 3 minutes and finally, all done!!! Cooked thoroughly!!!


The final look of the cake. I peeled off the sides earlier before microwaving cos I was eager to taste it, and that was the only part cooked earlier on. I think w/o tenting it, it would've cooked by the end of the baking.






 
Here is what I did,

4 large eggs
150gm regular granulated sugar (gula pasir kasar)
100gm bread flour (yes, bread flour. But I think I'll change to pau flour(not Hong Kong Flour) next time. Pau flour has the gluten level of all purpose, but it has a finer texture)
50ml milk
2 Tbsp honey, some extra for glazing the top, if u wish to.

1. Warm milk and honey in microwave. Stir and make sure honey dissolves.
2. Sift flour twice.
3. Preheat oven at 150C. Line a 7 inch pan with 1 single piece of paper, folded at corners, with sides made higher
4. Beat eggs and sugar over hot water on high speed for the first 3 minutes and lowest speed for the next 12. (if u're using a stand mixer, u might not do it as long as I did. )
5. Use a hand whisk, whisk in the honey mixture until well combined.
6. Whisk in sifted flour until no lumps of flour are seen.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40mins. (Yes, even with a half portion, u have to bake at almost full time. I got to know this thru Shirley)
8. When cake is done, remove from pan and tear away the side liners. Cool cake thoroughly and keep cake air tight in a tupperware overnight, before cutting, so that cake will be moist.

U know what this cake taste like???? It's like... Ji Dan Gao (鸡蛋糕). Except, it has a slight honey flavour and more bounce due to the bread flour. Quite nice actually. I will attempt this cake again, with pau flour and beating with the mixer all the way.


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Mushroom Potato Soup

Monday, February 22, 2010


Haha, u know what is this??

Baby food! Something really new on my blog.

Warning: I do not recommend this for babies below 9 months. Food choices for your own baby is yours, this is just my baby’s food.

I suddenly had this idea of making mushroom soup for Lyanne.
Bought some nice pesticide free white button mushroons, an organic leek and russet potatoes which are oh so yummy and soft.

For 2 meals:
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 button mushrooms, abt 1/3 cup when sliced thinly
¼ cup thinly sliced leeks
1 tsp or slightly more olive oil.
Small pinch of salt (optional)
3 cups water

Heat a small pot and put in olive oil. Saute sliced leeks until soft and slightly browned. Put in sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms wilt. Put in water and bring to a boil.
Put in potatoes and simmer until tender. Season with a little bit of salt, if wanted. Puree and keep warm.

Ok, from the pic u can see I didn’t puree it. Lyanne likes it slightly granular. So, I forked out the potatoes, and pureed just the broth. I mashed the potatoes with a fork and mixed with the pureed broth.
Do whichever way ur baby prefers or whatever u think is best. Oh yes, u can mix it with ur baby’s formula powder, so that it’ll have creamy milky taste, like real mushroom soup.

Lydia loved it as much as Lyanne :)

Oh yes, I cooked this 4 months back :) I know I'm late, I know I am...... very much late.

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Hannah's Piano Rainbow Cake

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Hannah is my eldest brother's eldest daughter, elder sister of Jojo (Joanna).

A talented singer (she can follow songs just by listening to it once, and she was still in pre-kindergarten years),

A graceful dancer (just look at her perform in her school concert, undeniably the best in her class, she took up ballet at 4, and she could catch up with the 5 n 6 yr olds in her class with just a few lessons),

An Elephant (not her size, but her memory. Never tell her something u don't want her to remember, especially how many kids u plan to have, if not she'll pester u with the question , "When will the next one be coming?")

A sensible and careful girl (she knows what is right or wrong since very young and will warn her little sister when she is trying to be naughty. Never does anything she's not confident of. Never eats 2 candies when her mom tells her to eat one.)

She the type of daughter every mother will be proud of, that's what I can say. I learnt to change diapers, prepare formula thru taking care of her during my holidays when she was a baby. She prepared me for Lydia and Lyanne.

For her birthday this year(2 weeks back), I made her a Piano cake, promised months ago, even before Jojo's birthday last year. Hannah loves butter, so I tried out buttercream. Her fav colour is purple, so a purple piano it'll be. I didn't want a cake with lots of filling but let the flavour of buttercream shine thru. So I made a "rainbow cake". Actually it's an emulsified sponge cake, recipe taken from Rumah Manis as linked from What's for Dessert Today. I never told Lydia that this is a rainbow cake, I only told her it's a piano cake, but once the cake was cut and Lydia saw the inside, she screamed, RAINBOW CAKE. Kids are kids. U never know how smart they can be.





In this video, u can see how excited Lydia was, as if it's her birthday. Hannah only saw the cake just before the birthday song, cos all of us wanted the cake to be a surprise to her. It was difficult for her to land a cut in the cake, of which in the end she reluctantly did.

We didn't finish the cake at the party, but split up the cake for everybody to bring home. I took this piece home and took some pics to show how it looks like inside.

Pink - Strawberry
Brown - Chocolate
Purple - Yam/Taro
Green - Pandan
The combination of flavours were great. The buttercream was so so nice. I never liked buttercream, but now I'm a convert. Actually everybody at the party converted. Homemade buttercreams are nothing like store bought ones. No oily feel at all. Doesn't leave film in the mouth. And it's so so fragrant. It's also rather stable in our definately over 30C weather. I thought pure butter buttercreams(w/o shortenings or margarine) will be runny, but no.. it stayed put, very well. I think it's due to the sticky meringue base. I'll definately do this butter cream again. I didn't even flavour it. Original!!

Swiss buttercream recipe taken from Tartelette

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Apple Granola Muffins

Thursday, February 18, 2010



Hi everybody!! I'm back from my Lunar New Year eating, binging and every thing gluttony related.

This post is almost 9 months back :)
I haven't been posting this one up because... I was posting others.

If u have been reading my blog for a while, u'd realise I don't bake much healthy stuff :) Those fibre rich, low sugar or whatever... cos really I don't eat much of those. But I love oatmeal (my way) and muesli bars.
This apple granola muffin is one of those rare things :) I forgot where I took the recipe, it's been ages.

Apple Granola Muffins recipe

(A)
160gm all purpose flour
1 tsp sodium bicarbonate
½ tsp cinnamon powder
110gm granola /muesli mix
80gm brown sugar
½ tsp salt
-Sift flour, soda bicarb and cinnamon powder. Then combine with the rest of ingredients A

(B)
2 large eggs
180ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
80gm melted butter (after melted, use 2 Tbsp of the melted butter for the topping, use the remaining butter for the batter)
-Combine everything together.

3 medium sized green apple (granny smith), abt 400gms
Peeled, cored, and diced 1cm cubes.

Topping (this is the thing that makes it so delicious)
2 Tbsp rolled oats
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
2 Tbsp of melted butter (from above)
-Mix everything except butter. When the dry ingredients are well mixed, put in butter to form crumbs.

Final Assembly
Preheat oven at 170/180C.
Put (A) into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre. Pour in ingredients (B) into the well and mix until just combined. Put in apples. Combine with the batter. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups and sprinkle topping on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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Happy Chinese New Year!!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


All the uncles aunties out there...
I'm tired of posing already. So, no more photos of us until further notice.

I need my angpow.
I can give u oranges in exchange :)


Want or not??

Pictures taken a week before.

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Dried Agar-agar (Jelly) Candy

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The sky’s so blue…. Rare.
Not a cloud in sight, the whole afternoon.

It’s so so sunny these days.. that I could wash do 4 rounds of laundry and they all dried up by the end of the day. Usually if it’s sunny at noon, by late afternoon, it’ll rain. But it’s hot and drier than usual. If one round of laundry can dry up in less than 2 hours…. Why not I make some dried jelly?? I’ve never made these before, but I love them.

This is one of the stuff that my brothers and I will rumage for whenever my dad brings back Eid goodies from his Moslem friends. But those that I ate when I was a kid really tasted like candy, lots of sugar. But as I grew up, the candies tasted less sugary and more jelly like. It tastes better this way, less sweet.They are usually made by Malays for Eid ul-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr , never have I seen a Chinese doing this. It’s one of the ‘must’ goodie for Eid. There are lots of blur recipes online in Malay language, but most of them just state "one packet of agar-agar strips". Hello!!! There are many packing sizes.. 10gm, 25gm, 28gm and 32gm. So, how much is one packet???

I might be the first. First, maybe as a non Malay to blog about dried jelly or dried agar-agar. I’m just assuming cos I can’t google any. I adapted this recipe from HomeKreation. I was lazy to keep the balance of 50gm rock sugar, so I dumped the whole pack in. Actually with more rock sugar, there'll be less of a crust. If u want ur jelly candy to have a crunchy crust, replace some of the rock sugar with granulated sugar, of which ur jelly will be slightly sweeter but you'll have a better crust. Do not reduce the sugar instead, cos it will not give u the structure u will need. Oh yes, do not use real fruit juice to make this. The acid from the fruit juice will not make u a dry candy.

Dried Agar-agar Candy /Dried Jelly Candy Recipe
25gm agar-agar strips
1L water
250gm rock sugar
100gm sugar
1 tsp rose flavouring
½ tsp pink/red colouring


1. Boil agar strips on medium heat (pot covered) until fully melted.
2. Put in rock sugar and sugar. Cook until all the sugars are dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and put in flavourings and colouring.
4. Pour into prepared moulds or in a 9 inch square pan.







5. When set, cut into preferred shapes or remove from moulds and lay them on a tray lined with non stick baking paper or muslin.






6. Sun dry until surface of jelly is dry. Flip pieces of jelly ever few hours so that the drying will be even. I made mine in almost a week. It can take up to weeks, if weather is not good. (picture taken outdoors so that the real crust can be seen)


**At night I bring the jellies into my room, so that the air-cond can dehydrate them.

See how much they've shrunk??------------------>


It's not like a gummy jelly, not sticky at all.
It's got a crunchy crust, a slightly chewy and springy interior.
One word, delightful.

Lastly with these red sweet hearts,
I wish everybody
a Happy Valentine's day.
I love u all, please visit me more often
:)

I'm hoping I'll get that new Sony panaromic camera.... Mike, Mike????

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Stir Fried Hot and Sour Lotus Root 酸辣炒莲藕

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


My cousin Grace, brought this back from Seremban many many years ago. She told me a church member cooked this for her. One bite into it and I was shocked!! It’s sour!! I knew it could be spicy because I could see the dried chillies, but I didn't anticipate the sourness.

It’s nice. It’s addictive, the crunchiness of the lotus root, the spiciness of the chilli, the sourness of the vinegar, the smell of the flat leaf parsley…It’s a myriad of senses.

Maybe u can try this for Chinese New Year reunion dinner, for a refreshing change. I hope that u find this dish as yummy as I find it is.

100gm local lotus root (cleaned weight, so u better buy more than 100gm, China's lotus roots may not be as crunchy as the local type, and they could be more starchy too.)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
½ cup chicken breast thin slices (marinate with 1/3 tsp salt and some pepper)
5 dried chillies (seeds removed, cut into 3 pcs each, rinsed, )
1 cup flat leaf parsley(Daun sup, cut into 2 inch lengths)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
1/3 tsp salt
2/3 tsp cornstarch + 1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp oil

1. Slice lotus root thinly and marinate with vinegar for 2 hours. Tossing the roots slices every now and then to make sure the vinegar is well distributed.
2. Heat wok and put in oil. Put in garlic and fry until fragrant but not golden. Put in dried chilli and fry until fragrant (the heat of the chilli might come up to ur eyes), put in chicken slices and stir fry until half cooked.
3. Put in marinated lotus root and the balance of liquid into wok and toss for about 20-30 seconds. Put in salt and cornstarch solution. When gravy has come to a boil and thickened, put in parsley. Toss until parsley wilts, dish up and serve.

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Butter Pecan Cookies

Saturday, February 6, 2010




I'm still hesitating about baking cookies this year... I haven't bake any.. even until now. Only did arrowhead chips so far.
Last year,

2008,

2007,
I made only Arrowhead chips, cos I was pregnant with Lydia and had no mood at all.

2006,
Pineapple tarts and kuih makmur.

2005... I forgot.

I didn't make these for Chinese New Year this year. It's a back post. But since it's lots of cookie baking for lots of people out there now, maybe u can try this. I purposely shaped my cookies like pecans.

Adapted from Martha Stewart's site.


Ingredients

• 3/4 cup pecans (I used 80gms)
• 1/2 cup (115gm) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used salted, so I skipped the salt)
• 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for coating (I used 70gm fine granulated sugar, plus more)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt (skipped this)
• 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 150gm)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180/170C). On a baking sheet, toast pecans until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool completely; finely chop.
2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until light, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla, salt, and flour, scraping down sides of bowl, just until dough comes together. Fold in pecans.
3. Pinch a small piece of dough, roll into an oblong shape, Roll in sugar. Place on a baking sheet. Gently flatten with a fork. 
4. Bake until golden brown, rotating sheet halfway through (if necessary), about 15 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

This cookie keeps well. I made them more than 2  months back, and they still taste good now.. I mean now. Cos I still have them :)

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Soy Sauce King Prawns 士油皇虾

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No no.. the prawns aren’t that large, not king sized. It’s just the name, translated literally from it’s Chinese name.

I first tasted this about 5 years back at a friend’s wedding. And I found the taste to be very special, simple and light, infused with sweet smell of garlic and green onion.

Restaurants will first fry the prawns in deep oil in big batches and then proceed on to the flavouring part. But I don’t think cooking at home u’d want to use so much oil, and discard them later. So, I just pan fried them.
You might want to cook this for ur Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Simple and tasty. Cooking time is less than 5 minutes :)

Here is my recipe, recreated what I first tasted.

Soy Sauce King Prawns

-300gm large prawns (about 12 pcs, snip off the eyes, the sharp point of the head, and the feelers)
-Half bulb of garlic, peeled, cubed (abt 1cm)----Do not smash or crack the garlic.
-2 Tbsp quality light soy sauce
-Handful of green onions, cut into 2 inch lengths. Sprinkled on serving dish.
¼ cup oil or more

1. Clean prawns and dry them properly on kitchen towels.
2. Heat wok until very hot on high heat. Put in oil. Carefully put in prawns and make sure they are spread around with one side of its body touching the wok. Turn to medium heat.
3. When the prawn starts to curl, flip them over and push them aside, not too far off tho, just away from the oil will do.
4. Put garlic cubes into the center of the wok and let it fry until fragrant and golden. Meanwhile flip the prawns one more time.
5. When both sides of the shell looks well fried , Turn to high heat again.
6. Push the prawns back into the oil. Put in 2 Tbsp light soy sauce and toss a few times. Or until the soy sauce dries up a bit. Careful not to burn the sauce.
7. Place hot prawns over green onions. Yes, the green onions are cooked only with the heat of the prawns.
If u do not like to eat garlic or green onions, do not leave them out. They are crucial to the recipe. Just discard what u do not eat after u’ve eaten the prawns.


Lyanne: I'm flabbergasted!!!!!!! Scroll down to see why.


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Here's what happened..
After dinner that day,  I was doing the dishes and Mike was bathing. Suddenly I smell a wift of fragrance. I went out of the kitchen, saw my room light(table light) was on.. and there was Lydia playing with talcum powder... Lydia was smiling at my wide opened mouth.. No words, I have no words for her.
I quickly carried her out and asked Mike, who was out from the shower by now to quickly take pics of her, so that she'll know what she has done when she was 2. Hehehehehe.... recording her childhood embarassments. She thought she was very pretty, until I brought her to face a mirror later on. She looked at the mirror .. and was stoned by the zombie in the mirror. She quickly requested to wash off everything. Now, she no longer plays with talcum powder.
 :)

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