Wednesday, December 13, 2017

French Chocolate Bark

It's time for Chocolate and Vanilla, over at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). Having missed last week's theme, I am not about to miss this week's too.  I've made Ina Garten's, French Chocolate Bark.

This is super easy, and I have all the ingredients in my pantry. Well, almost, with some subs of ingredients. Ina uses salted roasted cashews, which I have replaced with almonds. I did not have any dried cherries (they are very expensive!), so I have used dried cranberries. And also did not have semi sweet chocolate, so I have used milk chocolate instead, which is melted together with bittersweet chocolate. 

Melt both chocolates, spread on parchment paper, then scatter the rest of the ingredients over the chocolate spread. Ina has given the instruction on which ingredient to be scattered first. I was tempted to mix the ingredients in a bowl and then simply scatter them over the chocolate spread. But on second thoughts, decided to follow Ina's instructions instead.

The melted chocolate is spread in a 9x10-inch rectangle. The rest of the ingredients ; toasted almonds, chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, golden raisins and chopped crystallized ginger.

 I did not use all of the almonds, and there's some balance of the dried cranberries and golden raisins. The chocolate spread is already full!  I am glad that I did not mix all the almonds and the dried fruits together in a bowl.

 Ina says to set aside for 1 to 2 hours until firm, then cut to serving pieces. Well, mine did not set at all, so I pop the bark in the fridge to set.

The chocolate bark sets nicely in the fridge. But they started to melt within minutes after cutting. Our hot and humid weather does that to chocolates, that is why we can never keep our chocolate at room temperature, they are always kept in the fridge. So the cut pieces were kept in an airtight container and store in the fridge. These barks are yummy and addictive! Not that kind of addictive snack that you would be eating pieces of it at one sitting, but rather addictive in a way that you would think of having another piece after half an hour and still think about it another hour later! They would not last long in the fridge, that's for sure!

French Chocolate Bark
(source from
1 cup whole salted, roasted cashews (almonds)
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (milk chocolate)
6 to 7 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried crystallized ginger, 1/2-inch diced
1/2 cup dried cherries (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup dried apricots, 1/2-inch diced
1/4 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a pencil, draw a 9x10-inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper placed on a sheet pan, then turn the parchment paper over.
Spread the cashews in one layer on another sheet pan and bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place the semisweet chocolate and half the bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 20 to 30 seconds. (Don't trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch). Stir with a rubber spatula. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the  chocolate is just melted. Immediately add the remaining bittersweet chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it lightly into the drawn rectangle. Sprinkle the top evenly in the following order; first the ginger, then the cooled whole cashews, the cherries, apricots, and raisins. Set aside for 1 to 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 18 to 20 pieces and serve at room temperature.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week 
Chocolate & Vanilla

Sunday, December 3, 2017

American Sandwich Bread

This simple white bread from Bread Illustrated by America's Test Kitchen is a lovely bread. It has nice crust and soft airy crumb.

Very easy bread to make and bakes up to a lovely loaf. I did reduce the salt though, using only half the amount called for, 3/4 teaspoon instead of 1-1/2 teaspoons. 

I like it's beautiful soft crumbs. Great as a sandwich bread, or spread with your favourite jam and salty butter. It is lovely toasted, spread with a generous dollop of cold salty butter, which will melt onto the hot crispy toast, perfect with a cup of hot steaming coffee!  

American Sandwich Bread
(Bread Illustrated by America's Test Kitchen)
2-1/2 cups (13-3/4 ounce) bread flour
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup (2-2/3 ounces) water, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey

  1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, water, melted butter, and honey in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until honey has dissolved.
  2. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Grease 8-1/2 by 4-1/2-inch loaf pan. Press down on dough to deflate. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter (side of dough taht was against bowl should now be facing up). Press and stretch dough into 8 by 6-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge.
  5. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Pinch seam closed and place loaf seam side down in prepared pan, pressing dough gently into corners.
  6. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until loaf reaches 1 inch above lip of pan and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
  7. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Mist loaf with water and bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 205 to 230 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking,
  8. Let loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely on wire rack, about 3 hours, before serving.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #24 hosted by 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Zucchini Pancakes

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). We are free to choose any recipes from IHCC current or past featured chefs. And I've made Ina Garten's Zucchini Pancakes for our brunch snack. 

Zucchinis are grated using the coarse side of the box grater. Stir the grated zucchinis together with grated onion, eggs, flour, baking powder and salt. I've added red chillies to the batter, deseeded and thinly sliced.  I find that the batter is quite runny and have added a few extra tablespoons of flour. The next time I will squeeze out some of the juices from the zucchini. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the batter and pan-fry in hot oil on both sides until golden.

These may be eaten with sour cream, or with your favourite sauce. I've made one of our favourite and simple dipping sauce, a mixture of mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce, which we love to dip our fritters or savoury pancakes. These pancakes are delicious and makes a wonderful brunch snack.

Zucchini Pancakes
2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons grated red onion
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
unsalted butter and vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Grate the zucchini into a bowl using the large grating side of a box grater. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the flour, the baking powder, salt, and pepper. (If the batter gets too thin from the liquid in the zucchini, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.)
Heat a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil together in the pan. When the butter is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place the pancakes on a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more butter and oil to the pan, and continue to fry the pancakes until all the batter is used. The pancakes can stay warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
November 2017 Potluck

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christopher's Oven-Baked Potato and Red Pepper Tortilla

This recipe is from Joanne Chang's cookbook, flour, too, one that has been in my possession for quite sometime, but have never made anything from it before. Time to try some of the recipes and  I've selected this Oven-Baked Tortilla for our lunch.

The potatoes are first boiled until cooked through, then peeled and cut into 1/2 in slices. 
Yellow onions, red bell peppers are cut into pieces, then sauteed with some olive oil together with minced garlic until the vegetables soften, a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer  the vegetables to a bowl. In the same skillet, heat some oil, then add the cooked potatoes, sprinkle with paprika, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the potatoes are brown in some places, do not turn the potatoes for three or four minutes. Turn the potatoes and brown the other side. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, Parmesan, scallions and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the vegetables over the potatoes, pour the egg mixture and bake for 16 to 20 minutes until puffy and brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

A slice or two served with some greens makes a delicious lunch.

Christopher's Oven-Baked Potato and Red Pepper Tortilla
(from flour, too by Joanne Chang)
serves 6 to 8
2 large or 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
6 large eggs
3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk
1 cup/100gm freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 tbsp/75ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2in /12mm pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1in/2.5cm pieces
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
Special equipment : ovenproof 12-inch skillet

In a medium saucepan, combine the potatoes with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and can be easily pierced with a fork; the timing will depend on the size of the potatoes. Drain and transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel (the skins should come off quite easily) and cut crosswise into slices 1/2 in/12mm thick.
Preheat the oven to 450F/230C, and place a rack in the centre of the oven.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, Parmesan, scallions, and parsley. Season with 1/4 tsp each of the salt and pepper. Set aside.
In the skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion, bell pepper, and garlic and sweat for several minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, heat 3 tbsp of the oil over high heat. Carefully add the potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle evenly with the paprika, the remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and the remaining 1/4 tsp pepper. Do not turn the potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes. Once the potatoes are nicely browned on the first side, flip them over and drizzle the remaining 1 tbsp oil into the skillet. Let the second side brown for a few more minutes. Don't worry, if not all of the potatoes get browned, the point is to get a nice crust on some of the potatoes. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Spread the vegetables mixture evenly over the potatoes, then carefully pour the egg mixture evenly over the potatoes and vegetables. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until the egg puffs and browns and the middle is just barely set when tested with a knife tip. Remove from the oven and let cool in the skillet for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. The tortilla can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature or warm in a 300F/150C oven for 15 minutes before serving.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #23 hosted by 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Parmesan Chicken and Mustard Roasted Potatoes

I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) is cooking The Way To Jeffrey's Heart this week. Jeffrey is the husband of Ina Garten, and in IHCC words "Ina Garten knows the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and she has known The Way To Jeffrey's Heart for nearly 50 years! 

If you've watched Ina Garten on Food Network then you know that Jeffrey is really the star of the show. Ina is constantly spoiling Jeffrey with her cooking, whether she is making his Friday night chicken, packing them a picnic, or cooking French in their Parisian home. In fact, as proof, she has an entire cookbook dedicated to Cooking For Jeffrey!"

Well, I do not have Ina's latest cookbook Cooking For Jeffrey, but I would like to think that this Parmesan Chicken recipe of Ina's from one of her other cookbooks and Mustard-Roasted Potatoes are some of Jeffrey's favourite, as obviously he loves everything that Ina cooks! Lucky Jeffrey!

First, the Mustard-Roasted Potatoes, which takes an hour to bake. I've used Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks. Toss the potatoes with sliced onions, then mix with olive oil, whole grain mustard, salt and pepper in a baking tray. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour until the potatoes are tender and brown in some spots. Turn the potatoes every 15 minutes or so, so that they cook evenly. Serve with some chopped parsley, of which I have used fresh coriander.

For the Parmesan Chicken, Ina uses chicken breast but I have used boneless thigh instead, as that was what I had in my freezer. Pretty easy to make, the chicken is coated with seasoned flour (a mixture of flour, salt and pepper), then dipped in beaten egg, and drenched with a mixture of dry breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese. Heat two tablespoons of oil (Ina uses a mixture of butter and oil), fry on both sides until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with salad greens with some simple dressing. Ina's salad dressing is similar to the one I always make at home, the only difference is I've added some honey to taste. We love this simple dressing, and one that was often requested by my son and daughter when we have salad like this served alongside roasted meat or chicken. With the added honey, this dressing is especially good with bitter salad greens. I usually served a bowl of this dressing on the table, and let everyone help themselves to drizzle on their own greens, they prefer it that way too! And on the plus side, any leftover greens can be stored in the fridge clean and dry.

Both recipes can be found at these links :
Parmesan Chicken at
Mustard-Roasted Potatoes at foodnetwork. com

I am linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
The Way To Jeffrey's Heart

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pear Pandowdy

This week's theme at I Heart Cooking Club (IHCC) is, Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Apples and Pears ! There's definitely no shortage in recipes when it comes to these two ingredients, especially apples! Could not decide which one to make as there are tons of recipes using apples or pears.  I've decided to use them both in Nigella Lawson's Pear Pandowdy, recipe from her cookbook Nigella Kitchen.

This is super easy to make, chunks of pears and apples are cooked in butter with some sugar and lemon zest for about ten minutes of so. I have used brown sugar instead of white. Then the pan is removed from the heat, keep aside while you make the pastry. Heat the oven to 200C.

The pastry is easy and quick to put together. There's butter and some vegetable shortening used, but I omitted the vegetable shortening and use all butter. Mix the flour and butter briefly, add some cold milk a little at a time until the dough binds. I did not use all of the milk, the dough needed only a quarter cup to bind together. Transfer the dough to a floured counter and roll out the dough until it is big enough to cover the top of the skillet over the cooked pears and apples. Make three slits on top, sprinkle some sugar and bake for 25 minutes. Nigella says it will turn to a pale golden crust. I prefer it to be darker, so I have baked an extra 5-7 minutes longer but the colour still remains pale. I then took it out of the oven, afraid that I'll end up over baking the crust.

We had this with ice cream, and both the son and daughter like it very much. I thought this was Ok, but if I do make this again, I would make a couple of changes. For the filling, I thought that it needed something to bring out the flavours of  the pear and apples. I would add some spice, cinnamon or nutmeg maybe a touch of ginger too, and just a teaspoon or so of lemon juice, just to bring the flavours together. I might throw in some dried cranberries or raisins to be cooked together with the apples and pears, would add some delicious flavours that sometimes dried fruits are good at!  As for the crust, to get the lovely golden brown on the crust, I would brush the pastry with some egg wash before baking. But overall, this is quite lovely with a generous scoop of ice cream!

Pear Pandowdy
(Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson)
serves 6
4 Bartlett pears
2 Golden Delicious apples
3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 teaspoon for sprinkling
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

for the pastry :
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch salt
5 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (I've replaced with butter)
1/2 cup cold whole milk (I only need 1/4 cup)
heavy cream, to serve (optional)

1 x cast iron skillet or ovenproof frying pan, 9 or 10 inches diameter

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Peel the pears and apples, then quarter them, slice out the cores, and cut the pears into 3/4 inch pieces and the apples into 1/2 inch pieces, dropping them into a bowl as you go.
Using a skillet or frying pan that can go into the oven later, melt the 3 tablespoons soft butter over a medium heat, then add the diced fruit, sugar, and lemon zest, and cook over a lowish heat, stirring occasionally,  for 10 minutes, by which time some of the fruit will have begun to caramelize gently. Take off the heat while you get on with the pastry.
Put the flour and salt into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat paddle, add the very cold cubed butter and, using a teaspoon, drop in little lumps of cold shortening, then slowly mix to cut the fat into the flour, or just do this by hand.
Still with the motor running, and the paddle turning slowly, add the milk a little at a time, just so that the dough binds, then remove from the bowl, squish it together with your hands, and drop it onto a lightly floured surface ready to roll out.
Bring the pan of cooked fruit nearby (but not so near as to warm the dough), and roll out the dough until you have a rough circle about the diameter of the skillet. Drop the dough circle on top of the fruit, tucking in the edges a bit, and remember that the ramshackle look of this is the whole point. Make 3 slashes with the tip of a sharp knife, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and put in the oven for 25 minutes, by which time the white dough will have turned into a pale golden brown.
Remember that the handle will be searingly hot, so transfer carefully to the table, and preferably cover the handle. Serve with heavy cream.


Other apples and pears recipes which I've made before from IHCC past featured chefs :

very refreshing and fun to eat!


We really enjoyed this!

Chocolate and pear, this is delicious! 

It's an Ottolenghi recipe, so it must be good!

Different textures and flavours, lovely combination!

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Apples and Pears !


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #23 hosted by 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Silken Tofu with Pickled Mustard Greens

This is really a simple soup, with two ingredients, silken tofu and pickled mustard greens. Make sure to use good quality chicken stock, that is what makes this soup. I've used my own homemade chicken stock which I kept a few containers in the freezer, very handy for recipes such as this.

For the pickled mustard greens, I have used pickled mustard tubers, sold in packs, sliced and ready to eat. It is one of my favourite pickles to use in cooking and especially good as a condiment to a bowl of plain congee, as it can be eaten as it is. To make this soup, heat some oil, and stir-fry the mustard greens/tubers till fragrant, add the stock and bring to a boil. Add some salt and pepper to taste, the mustard tubers will be salty, so go easy on the salt, you might not need the salt if the stock is already salty. Once the soup is boiling, scoop the tofu in large pieces using a spoon, into the soup. Let the tofu warm gently and absorb the flavours. Dissolve a teaspoon or so of potato flour into cold water, stir to combine and add to the soup to thicken it slightly. Stir gently so as not to break up the tofu pieces, ladle into serving bowl and garnish with chopped spring onion, serve immediately.

I have made this soup twice, once with the added potato flour and this time without. I like both versions. If you love a luscious smooth soup then go ahead with the potato flour. For a more soupy soup, omit the potato flour. We really like this soup, yum!

The recipe can be found here.
Or from this fabulous book Every Grain Of Rice, by Fuchsia Dunlop

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #23 hosted by 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Marinara Sauce

It's Autumn Hues! at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). The colours of autumn ; orange, yellow, red and brown. We are cooking with Ina Garten, and I've made her Marinara Sauce. 

This is sooooo easy to make, and taste great!  I've used canned plum tomatoes in puree, and did the chopping in the saucepan itself, breaking up the tomatoes with the wooden spatula, as the tomatoes are soft and breaks up easily. No need to mess the cutting board! And used dried parsley instead of fresh. Go easy on the salt, I use less than half a teaspoon kosher salt, and Ina uses 1-1/2 teaspoons. The canned tomatoes already contain some salt, adjust to taste accordingly.
I love marinara sauce, very handy to keep a jar or two in the freezer. Will definitely make this again.

Marinara Sauce
(source from
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 15 minutes.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
Autumn Hues !

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Everyday Stir-Fry Chicken

Everyday Stir-Fry Chicken, is just what it is, a simple homey dish that can be cooked in just minutes,. Get the veggies all sliced up and ready, with all the other ingredients close by the wok. Just like most stir-fries, this dish comes together pretty quickly as soon as your wok is hot.

You can use either chicken thigh meat or breast meat, whichever you prefer. Any veggies can be used for this stir-fry dish. According to the author, sliced mushrooms, peppers, or even a small handful of soaked cloud ear mushrooms would work very well too. Here, I have used what I had in my fridge ; carrots, celery, spring onion and cucumber. 

A nice dish to serve with rice along with some stir-fried green veggies, perhaps a plate of omelette and some soup. 

Everyday Stir-Fried Chicken  (This recipe can also be found here)
(Every Grain Of Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop)
2 boneless chicken thighs, with our without skin (225gm)
small section of cucumber (4-5cm will do)
2/3 celery stick
1 garlic clove
an equivalent amount of ginger
1 spring onion, white part only
1 fresh red chilli, or Sichuan pickled red chilli
3 tbsp cooking oil

For the marinade :
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp potato flour
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp light soy sauce

For the sauce :
1/4 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp potato flour
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
1 tbsp stock or water

Lay the chicken thighs out on a chopping board. Whack them up and down with the back of your knife to tenderiz them, then cut into 1/2cm slices along the grain of the meat. Place in a small bowl. Add the marinade ingredients along with 2 tsp water and mix well.
Cut the piece of cucumber in half lengthways and discard the seeds. Then cut lengthways into 1/2 cm strips. De-string the celery and cut into strips to match the cucumber. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger. Cut the spring onion white and chilli on the diagonal into thin 'horse-ear' slices. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the chicken and stir-fry briskly. When the pieces have separated, add the garlic, ginger, spring onion and chilli and stir-fry until you can smell their fragrance and the chicken is almost cooked but still a little pink. Add the cucumber and celery and stir-fry until they are piping hot.
Give the sauce a stir, pour it into the centre of the wok and stir quickly as it thickens and clothes the pieces of chicken. Serve.

 I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #23 hosted by 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Red Bean and Lotus Seed Dessert

Red Bean and Lotus Seed Dessert, is usually served in Chinese homes during the weekends when everyone is around to enjoy a bowl. It can be served as an afternoon "snack" for tea-time, or as a light warm dessert, after dinner. Or have a bowl anytime of the day!

Very easy to prepare. Rinse the ingredients, bring a pot of water to a boil, add the ingredients, let it come to a boil again, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the red beans, lotus seeds and lily bulbs are tender. Add some rock sugar, either white or brown, your preference, to taste. May be served warm or at room temperature. I like it best when it is still very warm, almost still hot!

The ingredients ; dried lily bulb, dried red beans, dried lotus seed, dried tangerine peel and rock sugar. Each of these ingredients has its own health benefits according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Click on the ingredients for the link to TCM to read more on the medicinal properties of these ingredients. This dessert is not only delicious, but good for you!

Red Bean and Lotus Seed Dessert
(makes about 6 servings)
1 cup dried red beans (adzuki beans)
1/3 cup dried lotus seeds
1/3 cup dried lily bulb
1 small piece dried tangerine peel
3 liters water
rock sugar (brown or white), to taste

Rinse dried red beans a couple of times with clean tap water and drain. Rinse the rest of the ingredients once and drain. 
Bring water to a boil in a medium sized stockpot, add all the ingredients. Bring to boil once again, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the beans, lotus seeds and lily bulb are soft and tender. Add rock sugar to taste.
This dessert may be served at room temperature, but it is especially good when served still very warm.
* remove the tangerine peel before serving

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chicken Stew and Baked Rice

I've made two more recipes for Potluck Week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, with recipes from two of IHCC's past featured chefs, Jamie Oliver and Mark Bittman.

Jamie Oliver's Chicken Stew is delicious. Taken from his book Jamie's Food Revolution, he has given  the basic stew ingredients with four options to select from, with different meat and booze, to make four different stews. I've made Chicken Stew, using chicken thigh meat and white wine. I've followed everything in the recipe but I have used a fresh sprig of rosemary from the garden pot instead of fresh thyme and added an extra stalk of celery. This stew can either be cooked on the stove or in the oven. I cooked mine on the stove, for about 1 hour 15 minutes. It was easy and very flavourful.

Wanted to serve the stew with rice, I've made Mark Bittman's Simpler-Than-Pilaf Baked Rice, basmati rice cooked with cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom pods. The spices are sauteed with a little butter and oil, then the rice is stirred in with some salt and pepper. Add the water, let it come to a boil, cover the pot and place it in the preheated oven to bake for 10 minutes. I actually baked the rice for 30 minutes, as I have always cooked my rice in the oven this way. Once the rice is done, leave it for 15 minutes, fluff with a pair of chopsticks. Since I've cooked the rice much earlier, I simply transferred the cooked fluffy rice to the rice cooker, switched on with the "Keep Warm" function. Rice will be kept fluffy and hot until serving time.

Jamie Oliver's Chicken Stew and Mark Bittman's Baked Rice.

We had the Chicken Stew and Baked Rice with Diana Henry's Slow-Cooked Garlic Courgettes for dinner. Delicious!

Chicken Stew
(adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 pound diced, boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups white wine
2 stalks celery
2 medium onions
2 carrots
olive oil 1 heaped tablespoon all-purpose flour
1x14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

If using the oven to cook your stew, preheat it to 350F. Trim the ends of your celery and roughly chop the stalks. Peel the carrots, slice lengthways, and roughly chop.
Put a Dutch oven on a medium heat. Put all the vegetables and your chosen herb into the pan with 2 lugs of olive oil and fry for 10 minutes.
Add your meat and flour. Pour in the booze and canned tomatoes. Give it a good stir, then season with a teaspoon of sea salt (less if using table salt) and a few grinds of pepper.
Bring to a a  boil put the lid on, and either simmer slowly on your cooktop or cook in an oven for 1-1/2 hours. Remove the lid for the final half hour of simmering or cooking and add a splash of water if it looks a bit dry. When done, your meat should be tender and delicious. Remove any herb stalks before serving, and taste it to see if it needs a bit more salt and pepper.

Baked Rice
(adapted from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)
2 tablespoons butter or 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds or 5 white cardamom pods (optional)
1-1/2 cups long grain rice, preferable basmati
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 350F. Put half the butter or all of the oil in an ovenproof pot with a lid over medium heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the spices and cook for about a minute. Add the rice and some salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about a minute.
Add 2-1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, cover, put in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the rice from the oven, but do not uncover; let it rest in a warm place for another 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon and cloves (the cardamom pods are good to eat); taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, stir in the remaining butter if you are using it, and serve immediately.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs IHCC), theme for this week
October 2017 Potluck


 I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #22 hosted by 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Slow-Cooked Garlic Courgettes

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I've not made any of Diana Henry's recipes for quite a while, and it's time I revisit her book, Food From Plenty. I bought two zucchinis a few days before and was looking for recipes to use them up, found this delicious sounding dish, Slow-Cooked Garlic Courgettes. There's garlic, so it must be delicious!

The only ingredients required for this dish are just courgettes and garlic. Can never get simpler than this! Diana Henry uses 6 garlic cloves, but I have used 10 fat garlic cloves, might as well since it is all about the garlicky flavour! Peel and slice the garlic thinly, and the courgettes are sliced into thin rounds, the thickness of a coin. Heat some butter and olive oil, then saute the garlic slices until soft and fragrant, tip in the sliced courgettes, increase the heat so that the courgettes get a bit of colour, then reduce heat and continue to cook until the courgettes are soft and almost collapsing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The courgettes will release some its own water, so this dish is fairly moist.

Yum yum! The courgettes is very soft, tender and smells so nice from the garlic. I can understand why Diana Henry says she could eat a plateful on its own! I serverd this as a side dish with some stew and pilaf rice, sharing that in next post.

Slow-Cooked Garlic Courgettes
(adapted from Food From Plenty, Diana Henry)
"Heat 15gm (1/2oz) unsalted butter and 3 tbsp olive oil in a very large frying pan and gently cook 6 garlic cloves, very finely sliced, until soft but not coloured. Now add 500gm (1lb 2oz) courgettes sliced to the thickness of a pound coin, and turn over to coat. Increase the heat a bit so the courgettes get a little bit of colour, then reduce the heat, season and cook slowly (you almost "stew" them in the butter and oil) until completely soft, almost collapsing. This tastes purely of courgetts and doesn't need anything else. I can eat a plateful on their own."

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs IHCC), theme for this week
October 2017 Potluck


 I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #22 hosted by 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Chocolate Kugelhopf

This month, at The Cake Slice Bakers, the four recipes selected from the book World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey, which we are currently baking from are ;

Ginger Cake
Scandinavian Cardamom Coffee Cake
Chocolate Kugelhopf
Tarte aux Pommes

Members can choose any of these cakes to bake, and my choice is Chocolate Kugelhopf, since I am drawn to yeasty bakes!

This Chocolate Kugelhopf has a chocolate ganache swirls in it. It bakes into a soft and nice kugelhopf, but the process of making it is rather frustrating (to me!).

The recipe uses 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks, but the instructions says to mix in the egg yolks without any mention of the whole egg, and I was wondering whether should I use the whole egg as well or was it a typo error in the instructions. I went ahead and add the whole egg, assuming that it has been left out in the instructions.  The dough is like very thick batter, and I have to add almost half a cup of extra flour so that it is a little doughy, and even then, the "dough" is still very soft and so, so, sticky. I thought of adding more flour but am afraid that the bread will be dry, as I've added about 30% extra to the original amount. Honestly I almost gave up and thought of dumping the dough. But I went ahead anyway and hope for the best! I left the dough to proof for the first rising, punch it down, and it was supposed to be rolled on a floured counter. No way I could roll the very soft, very sticky dough without it sticking onto the counter, and it would definitely stick to the rolling pin from the looks of it, even if I flour the top, I would need quite an amount of flour, and I am not confident that I could transfer the very soft dough onto a baking sheet, which is to be refrigerated for 30 minutes. I placed the dough on a large sheet of plastic, which I placed on an upturned baking sheet, then place another large sheet of plastic over the dough, and use a rolling pin to roll it into a large rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, keeping fingers crossed that it will be easier to work with later on. 

Remove from the refrigerator and immediately spread the ganache all over. Roll the dough, swiss roll style. Still too soft to roll, and with the help of a wide pastry cutter, I tried rolling it but it was difficult to roll as the dough was sticky. In the end, it looks like a misshapen lump of log, rather than a nice rolled up smooth log of a dough. I know definitely that there will not be any pretty swirls in there! Bring the two ends together into a ring, adjust the dough, by shaping it gently, with floured hands, so that it is more or less the same thickness all around. Gather the dough and place in the greased bundt pan, with a whole almond placed in each ridge at the bottom of the bundt pan. Cover with greased cling wrap and left to rise until doubled in size. It certainly rises well! Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes, though I baked mine for an additional 5 minutes to get that really brown colour on the crust. It looks really huge after baking and I do hope that the kugelhopf will turn out good!

Let the kugelhopf rest for 10 minutes in the pan, then unmold onto a wire rack, glaze while still warm with some glaze, with a recipe provided for it. Since I have a container of apricot glaze, I used that instead. Allow the kugelhopf to cool. I could not wait to slice, to see the inside and taste it. But I was rather pleased with how it looks like from the outside!

Once it has cooled down, the glaze disappeared, no longer glossy! But I'm not concerned with that. I am eager to see the inside!

No pretty swirls! But the taste makes up for it! This Chocolate Kugelhopf is soft and fluffy. Tasted really good with the addition of chocolate ganache.  The kugelhopf was still soft the next day when we had it for breakfast, and we enjoyed slices of it with our morning coffee. That being said, I will not be making this again, but I was glad that I have given it a try.

Note : I've used 1 teaspoon instant yeast instead of the fresh yeast calls for in the recipe. For the ganache, I've used dark chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate. I baked in a 6-cup Nordic Ware bundt pan. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), the theme is How Easy Is That? We are cooking with Ina Garten@Barefoot Contessa. She has a book titled as such, How Easy Is That?. But we can cook any of her recipes which we deem easy, not necessarily from this book. And I've made her Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread, as I love cornbread! I got this recipe from her website but it can also be  found in another of her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa At Home. I have made quite a number of cornbread with different recipes over the years, and after making Ina's recipe, it is one of my top favourite, preferring her cornbread to Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall's recipe which I've made here

Ina's recipe made quite a large tray, since there are only three of us, I have made only half, and baked in a 8"square baking pan. A very easy and quick cornbread to make. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl, then mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir to combine but do not overmix. The batter is then left for 20 minutes at room temperature before it is poured into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until done. How easy is that?

I've used salted butter, so I have omitted the salt. I've used two whole jalapenos and added more scallions than the recipe calls for. For half a recipe, I've used only one extra-large egg. I did not scatter any Cheddar over the batter, I've sprinkled only with the chopped scallions. 

This cornbread is really, really, yummy! And I would add more jalapenos the next time. So moist, with soft crumbs and delicious, especially when eaten while still warm. A few slices is great for a simple lunch, and it is also really good for afternoon tea-time, with a mug of warm tea, which is how I enjoyed it!

* my measurements listed in blue for half a recipe, baked in a 8"square baking pan
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
3 cups all-purpose flour (1-1/2 cups)
1 cup yellow cornmeal (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sugar (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons baking powder (1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (omitted)
2 cups milk (1 cup)
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten (1 extra-large)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan (125gm, salted)
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided (1 cup)
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish (3 scallions) (1/2 cup, total)
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers (2 to 3 peppers) (2 jalapenos)

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
How Easy Is That?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pork Vindaloo

It has been sometime since I've tried any new meat curry recipes from Madhur Jafrrey because I keep going back to the few favourite recipes that I've made before. Among my top MJ's favourite meat curry dishes are Meatball Curry, Kerala-Style Bhuna Pork, Pork In A Mustard Spice Mix, Goan Pork Vindaloo with Potatoes, and our top favourite in my house, Red Pork Curry. I have cooked this many times since then.

Last week I've made Ina Garten's Scallion Basmati Rice, Madhur Jaffrey's Cabbage with Garlic and Shallots, and to complete the menu, this Pork Vindaloo, another one of MJ delicious curry.

This recipe has very few ingredients, and if you love cooking curries at home, like I do, you would probably have the spices needed, ground cumin, ground turmeric and chilli powder. Yup only three spices! The surprise ingredient here is grainy French mustard. In Madhur Jaffrey own words, "Most recipes for vindaloo involve grinding mustard seeds in vinegar. To save this step, I have used grainy French Pommery mustard (Moutarde de Meaux) which already contains vinegar. It works beautifully." And I totally agree with her, it works deliciously!

And in a vindaloo recipe, garlic is one of the essential ingredient. Along with the onions used, this is my third post for this week's IHCC theme, October Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Alliums !

I've doubled the recipe, as always, for curries like this, as a single recipe is never enough. I would suggest you do the same if you are cooking for 4-6 people. Leftovers is always a good thing for curries like this. The only changes I've made is to use 2-1/2 times more of the spices. For the chilli powder, MJ says that more can be added if you prefer a spicy dish. Of course we do! I have used 2 tablespoons, as the one I used is medium-hot. Use less if the chilli powder is extra hot.  I have however reduced the amount of coconut milk, as I have always prefer to use less coconut milk for curries like this. I want the flavour and taste of the spices to stand out boldly, and not to be tone down by the creaminess of the coconut milk. So for double recipe, I have used only about 150ml of coconut milk, with 350 ml water. 

Using French grainy mustard is indeed a great idea of MJ! The grainy mustard is mixed with the three spices, salt and vinegar in a small bowl. Slice the onions into half rings and crash the garlic into a pulp. Fry the onions in some oil until medium brown, then add the garlic, stir for 30 seconds, then add the mustard mixture. Stir and fry for about 1 minute, then add in the meat, stir fry for 3 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and water. Cook for about an hour, stirring now and then, until the meat is tender. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water if the curry appear dry during cooking. 

Delicious Pork Vindaloo! Tender meat, infused with the flavours of the spices and vinegar. And we love the gravy. This delicious dish is so good with the Scallion Basmati Rice and the Cabbage. Looks like this is one more curry that will be repeated in my kitchen! 

Pork or Lamb Vindaloo
(adapted from 100 Essential Curries, Madhur Jaffrey)
serves 3-4
1-1/2 tablespoons grainy French mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 - 1 tsp chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
100gm (4oz) onions, peeled
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
550gm (1-1/4 lb) boned hand of pork or shoulder of lamb, cut into 2.5cm (1 in) cubes
150ml (5 fl oz) tinned coconut milk, well stirred

Step One
Combine the mustard, cumin powder, turmeric, chilli powder, salt and vinegar in a cup. Mix well.

Step Two
Slice the onions into fine half-rings and crush the garlic to a pulp. Put the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions. Stir and fry until they are medium brown. Add the garlic. Stir and fry for 30 seconds. Add the paste from the cup. Stir and fry for a minute, then add the meat. Stir and fro for about 3 minutes.

Step Three
Now add in the coconut milk and 150ml (5fl oz) water if you are going to cook in a pressure cooker and 250ml (8fl oz) water if you are going to continue to cook in the frying pan. (Transfer to a pressure cooker at this state if that is your intention). Cover and either bring up to pressure, or to a boil if you are using the frying pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes in a pressure cooker and 60-70 minutes in the frying pan.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week,
October Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Alliums


 I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #22 hosted by