Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Everyday Sourdough

My first sourdough bread! Yay! Have been wanting to make sourdough bread for ages, but the whole process sounds very intimidating, from the making of the sourdough starter to the baking! I finally took the plunge! 

Sourdough is slow- fermented bread. It does not use commercial yeast, but made with live fermented culture (sourdough starter), which acts as the leavening agent. The sourdough starter (the most basic one) is made by mixing flour and water. The most frustrating part of the whole process is the beginning, the making of the sourdough starter. It took mine, three whole weeks, feeding it with water and flour, before the starter began to grow to almost three times in volume and began to puff and bubbly and ready for baking. 

Meet Bubbles, the starter. It smells nice, yeasty, sour and sweet. 

My first sourdough bread is the most basic one, perfect for a newbie like me, Everyday Sourdough. I mixed the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I shape it and left to rise in a cloth-lined banneton for the second and final rise, then invert onto a parchment paper. Scatter some flour on the dough, and rub gently, then score the top with a cross-cut pattern. Transfer the dough together with the parchment paper onto a Dutch Oven, cover and bake in a very hot oven for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the bread and bake directly on the oven rack for a further 10 minutes to crisp the crust.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Ooh... the crispy sound as the knife cuts into the crust, is like music to my ears! 😊 The crumb is soft with a mild sour taste, very nice!

Spread with butter, and lightly toasted, makes a delicious sandwich with some deli ham, tomato, avocado and lettuce greens. 

Both the starter and the Everyday Sourdough bread recipes are from this fabulous book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa. I love this book and am looking forward to try if not all, then most recipes from it!

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #34 

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

If you are a nut lover, then do make these! They are addictive, just as Nigella says, "once you eat these, you will never want to stop"!

The nuts I've used are walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanut and almonds. Go easy on the salt. I have reduced the salt to half and thought that I could reduce it further. 

Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, and fragrant from the rosemary! This calls for a big glass of cold beer!

The Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts
(Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson)
2-1/4 cups assorted unsalted nuts, including peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts,
hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven till they become light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter.
Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm.

Cookbook Countdown is cooking with Nigella Lawson this month. Make any dish of Nigella and join us. Or simply cook any recipe from any of your cookbook collection (other than Nigella's), and join us at Cookbook Countdown.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #34 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pasta with Meatballs

What's not to love about meatballs? Cooked in a saucy tomato sauce and top over pasta, makes a satisfying meal. This delicious recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, from her book, Nigella Bites. In her recipe, she served with her homemade pasta, but I have taken the easier route, with dried pasta, Spaghettini, which I had in my pantry.

The meatballs are very tasty. We did enjoy this pasta meal very much!

Pasta with Meatballs
(Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson)
for the meatballs :
9 ounces ground pork
9 ounces ground beef
1 egg
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
good grind of black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Just put everything together in a large bowl and then, using your hands, mix to combine before shaping into small balls (about a teaspoon amount). Place the meatballs on baking sheets or plates that you have lined with plastic wrap, and put each in the refrigerator as you finish them.

for the tomato sauce :
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra-virgin)
24 ounces canned tomatoes in puree
3/4 cup water
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon while milk (I use 2-3 tablespoons)

Put the onion, garlic and oregano into the processor and blitz to a pulp. Heat the butter and oil in a deep, wide pan, then scrape the onion-garlic mix into it and cook over low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. Don't let the mixture stick, just let it become soft. Add the tomatoes and then add about 3/4 cup cold water to the pan with the pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes. The tomato sauce may appear thin at this stage, but don't worry, as it will thicken a little later. Stir in the milk, and then drop the meatballs in one by one. Don't stir the pan until the meatballs have turned from pink to brown, as you don't want to break them up. Cook everything for about 20 minutes, with the lid only partially covering it. At the end of cooking time, check the seasoning, as you may want more salt and a grind or two more of pepper.

Cookbook Countdown is cooking with Nigella Lawson this month. Make any dish of Nigella and join us. Or simply cook any recipe from any of your cookbook collection (other than Nigella's), and join us at Cookbook Countdown.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #34 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Spicy Olive Bread

America's Test Kitchen cookbook, Bread Illustrated is one of my favourite baking book on breads. I have made some really nice breads from it and this Spicy Olive Bread is one of them.

There's lots of flavours going on in this bread ; there's red pepper flakes, minced garlic, black and green olives. The dough is mixed using the stand mixer. After the first rising, the dough is knocked back and shaped into a round, the second final rising is done in the Dutch oven.  

Once the dough has risen, the top is slashed with two 1/2 inch deep slashes to form a cross. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove the cover and continue to bake until the top is deep golden brown, about 25 minutes more.

Cool thoroughly before slicing.

I love the soft crumbs, with all the flavours ; a little spicy kick from the red pepper flakes, a little garlicky taste from the minced garlic, perfect combo with the salty olives. A good thing that I have reduced the salt by half, as I thought that it was perfect with just 1 teaspoon. Lovely bread!

Spicy Olive Bread
(Bread Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen)
3/4 cup pitted olives, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups (16-1/2 ounces) bread flour
2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt (I use 1 tsp)
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1-1/3 cups (10-2/3 ounces) water, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Combine olives and garlic in bowl. Whisk flour, yeast, salt, and pepper flakes together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, sugar and oil in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water 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.
  2. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, about 8 minutes. Reduce speed to low, slowly add olive mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, and mix until mostly incorporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Transfer dough and any loose olives 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. Press down on dough to deflate. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter (side of dough that was against bowl should now be facing up). Press and stretch the dough into 10-inch round.
  5. Working around circumference of dough, fold edges toward centre until ball forms.
  6. Flip dough ball seam side down and, using your cupped hands, drag in small circles on counter until dough feels taut and round and all seams are secured on underside of loaf.
  7. Lay 16 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Transfer loaf seam side down to centre of prepared parchment Using parchment as sling, gently lower dough into Dutch oven. Cover tightly with plastic and let 5rise until loaf increases in sizer by about half and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Using sharp paring knife or single-edge razor blade, make two 5-inch long, 1/2-inch-deep slashes with swift, fluid motion along top of loaf to form cross.
  9. Cover pot, place in oven, and bake loaf for 30 minutes. Remove lid, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, and continue to bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 205 to 210 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Using parchment sling, remove loaf from pot and transfer to wire rack; discard parchment. Let cool completely, about 3 hours, before serving.
***ATK do not recommend mixing this dough by hand.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #33 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Roasted Cajun Chicken with Spicy Tomato Salsa

Made this delicious Roasted Cajun Chicken with Spicy Tomato Sauce, with some short-cuts thrown in! Firstly, the recipe uses small whole chickens, butterflied, rub with the marinating spices and barbecued over low heat until cooked through. I have used whole chicken legs, marinated them for an hour and then roast in a preheated oven for an hour until done.

For the Spicy Tomato Salsa, instead of cooking fresh tomatoes over the grill plate, which are then to be chopped coarsely, I have used canned chopped tomatoes with chillies in tomato juice. Omitted the red wine vinegar as the canned tomatoes are already sour, so I have added about a tablespoon of sugar and some salt to taste.

Both the chicken and the tomato salsa are delicious. I've made some potato salad (not pictured) and with some fresh salad greens served alongside, this is one yummy meal! Happy faces at the dinner table! 

Barbecued (Roasted) Cajun Chicken with Spicy Tomato Salsa
(Perfect Roasts, The Australian Women's Weekly)
6 small chickens (3kg) (I use 6 chicken legs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small brown onion (80gm), grated coarsely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons each ground cinnamon and fennel
2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt to taste

Spicy Tomato Salsa :
6 large plum tomatoes (540gm), halved (I use canned chopped tomatoes with chillies in tomato juice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium brown onion (150gm), chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (omitted)
1 fresh long red chilli, chopped finely
  1. Discard neck from chickens. Rinse chicken cavities and pat dry with absorbent paper. Using kitchen scissors, cut along each side of backbones; discard backbones. Turn chicken skin-side up; press down on breastbone to flatten (I use 6 chicken legs)
  2. Combine remaining ingredients ; rub all over chickens. (Marinate for an hour, keep refrigerated. Arrange on baking tray and drizzle some olive oil over chicken pieces).
  3. Cook chicken on heated oiled covered barbecue, over low heat, 35 minutes or until chickens are cooked through. (Roast in a preheated oven, at 200C for an hour, basting the chicken with the juices accumulated in the roasting pan, a couple of times).
  4. Meanwhile, make spicy tomato salsa.
  5. Serve chicken with salsa.
Spicy Tomato Salsa :
Cook tomato on heated oiled grill plate, turning, until softened ; chop tomato coarsely. Heat oil in a medium saucepan; cook onion and garlic, stirring, until onion softens. Add spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Stir in tomato, vinegar and chilli; cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes or until salsa thickens. 
(I've used 2 cans of chopped tomatoes with chillies in tomato juice, omitted the vinegar as canned tomatoes are usually a little sour. I've added about 1 tbsp of sugar to balance out the sourness)

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #33 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Char Siu Pork with Snake Beans

A delicious stir-fry veggie dish with char siu. To make it a quick and easy stir-fry, I bought the char siu from the market, complete with the sweet sauce. If you are up to making your own, it is given in the recipe, how to make a simple char siu for this dish.

I microwaved the long beans for 3 minutes on high, and stir-fry them for a few minutes with the rest of the ingredients in step 3, it makes for shorter cooking time.

We love this dish, great with white fluffy rice. Will definitely be cooking this dish again. Would be great with French Beans as well. Yum!

Char Siu Pork with Snake Beans
(Wok Simple, by The Australian Women's Weekly)
200gm pork strips
2 tablespoons char siu sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 shallot (25gm), sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, crushed
100gm snake beans, chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon mirin (I use Hsiao Shing wine)
1/4 cup (50gm) rinsed, drained sliced bamboo shoots (omitted, not a fan of bamboo shoots)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Combine pork, sauces and five-spice in small bowl.
  2. Heat half the oil in wok; stir-fry pork mixture until browned and sticky. Remove from wok.
  3. Heat remaining oil in wok, stir-fry shallot, garlic and beans until beans are tender. Return pork to wok with mirin and bamboo shoots; stir-fry until hot, season to taste. Serve topped with sesame seeds.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #33 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Rum and Raisin Braid

A soft, moist and rum-fragrant bread. Raisins are soaked with half cup of dark rum, then mixed with the rest of the ingredients to form a dough. Let rise until doubled in size, then punch down and divide the dough into three. Roll each piece into a long rope, then braid them together, let rise again until doubled in bulk. Brush the top with egg wash, bake for 35 minutes until golden. 

Some of the raisins got mashed up during the kneading process in the stand mixer. But I thought that is a bonus, as the crumbs are deliciously flavoured with the raisins. I have omitted the glaze drizzled over the cooled braid.

The braid is soft, moist, lightly sweetened from the mashed raisins, and fragrant from the rum. Lovely eaten as it is and makes a wonderful toast, spread with salted butter with a cup of hot coffee for breakfast.

Rum & Raisin Braid
(Simply Bread, by The Australian Women's Weekly)
3/4 cup (110gm) raisins
1/2 cup (125ml) dark rum
3/4 cup (180ml) warm milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons (7gm) dried yeast
40gm (1-1/2oz) butter, melted, cooled
3 cups (450gm) plain (all-purpose) flour (I use bread flour)
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 egg, beaten slightly
1/2 cup (80gm) icing (confectioners' sugar)
3 teaspoon milk, extra
  1. Place raisins and rum in a small bowl, stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine milk, brown sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy. Stir in butter.
  3. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add yeast mixture, raisin mixture and two-thirds of the egg (reserve remaining egg in the fridge). mix to a sticky dough. Continue mixing dough with mixer for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  4. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
  5. Grease an oven tray. Punch down dough with your fist; turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into three portions. Roll each portion into a 35cm (14 in) long rope. Place dough lengths on oven tray, pressing the tops together to join; cross lengths over and under each other to form a plait. Press ends to join; tucking ends under. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. 
  6. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  7. Brush braid with reserved egg. Bake for 35 minutes (I baked for 42 minutes), or until golden and sounds hollow when tapped on base. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Sift icing sugar into a small bowl; stir in extra milk. Drizzle glaze over braid.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #33 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Hazelnut Pinwheels

These pinwheels makes a nice snack with a cup of hot coffee, tea or even milk. The filling for the swirls is simply chocolate hazelnut spread with some hazelnut meal. The dough is mixed in the food processor, knead briefly by hand then chill for 1 hour. The chilled dough is then rolled out and spread with chocolate hazelnut spread (I've used nutella), and sprinkle with some hazelnut meal. Roll the dough, refrigerate for 30 minutes, then cut into 1cm slices. Bake for 20 minutes.

These are super easy to make. I did however, reduce the sugar to just 50grams and thought that it was perfect, without being overly sweet. Delightful little treats, great for snacking!

Hazelnut Pinwheels
(Cakes Biscuits & Slices, The Australian Women's Weekly)
1-1/4 cups (185gm) plain flour
100gm butter, chopped
1/2 cup (110gm) caster sugar (I use 50gm)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk, approximately
1/3 cup (110gm) chocolate hazelnut spread
2 tablespoons hazelnut meal

  1. Preheat oven to moderate (180C/160C fan-forced). Grease oven trays; line with baking paper.
  2. Process flour, butter and sugar until crumbly. Add egg yolk; process with enough milk until mixture forms a ball. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth; cover, refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Roll dough between sheets of baking paper to form 20cmx30cm rectangle, remove top sheet of paper. Spread dough evenly with hazelnut spread; sprinkle with hazelnut meal. Using paper as a guide, roll dough tightly from long side to enclose filling. Enclose roll in plastic wrap, refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Remove plastic; cut roll into 1cm slices. Place slices on trays 2cm apart. Bake about 20 minutes. Stand pinwheels on trays 5 minutes; transfer to wire rack to cool.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #33 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Spicy Chicken Masala

A spicy dish, from the generous amount of dried chillies and peppercorns. I like it the way it is, spicy! If a moderate or mild spicy taste is preferred, use a lesser amount of both the dried chillies and peppercorns. But if you can take heat pretty well, I urge you to go for it, as the chillies really make the dish! I used more than the amount of dried chillies called for, as I love really spicy dishes. 

I've used desiccated coconut instead of fresh grated coconut. During simmering, I've added a couple of tablespoons of water at a time, as the dish appears dry. Not too much of water, as the chicken pieces are supposed to be coated with the thick gravy when done. I have omitted the last step with toasted fennel seeds. I'm sure it will be extremely fragrant from the fennel seeds but I was too lazy, maybe the next time.

Spicy and delicious dish. Great with white rice.

Spicy Chicken Masala (Chicken Perattal)
(Step-by-step Indian Cooking, Dhersini Govin Winodan)
1/2 cup cooking oil
3 stalks curry leaves
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 chicken, about 1.5kg, cut into serving pieces, washed and drained\
salt to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
3-4 potatoes, peeled and quartered (optional)
2 tsp fennel seeds

Paste :
1 tbsp cooking oil
20 dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5 pods cardamom
7 shallots, peeled
2 stalks curry leaves
7 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2-inch knob ginger
2-1/2 tbsp grated coconut
1/2 cup water

  1. Prepare paste : Heat oil in a wok and fry dried chillies, coriander, peppercorns and cardamom for 5 minutes. Remove and fry shallots, curry leaves, garlic, ginger and grated coconut until shallots brown lightly.
  2. Put all paste ingredients except water into a blender. Add water bit by bit and blend mixture until very fine.
  3. Heat oil in a wok. Add curry leaves, then onions. Cook until onions are brown. Add paste and fry until fragrant. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry to coat completely.
  4. When juice start sizzling, add salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add potatoes now if using.
  5. Cover wok with a lid and allow chicken to cook gently. Remember to stir occasionally. Cook until sauce is reduced and thickened.
  6. Toast fennel, then grind onto a powder using a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle over chicken and serve hot with rice or breads.
I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #32 hosted by 
Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray
Theme for August 2018 : Cooking With Spice!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Egg Curry

This egg curry is quite delicious. Hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and tomatoes are simmered in a curry sauce with spices ; cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom pods, curry powder, chilli powder and ground black pepper. When the curry has done cooking and while still simmering, it is topped with some tempered spice. To temper the spice, heat some oil, and fry black mustard seeds, curry leaves and sliced shallots until the shallots brown, then pour over the simmering curry.

Delicious with fluffy white rice.

Egg curry
(Step-by-step Cooking Indian, by Dhershini Govin Winodan)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 in knob ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 stick cinnamon
5 pods cardamom
1 star anise
3 stalks curry leaves
2 onions, peeled and sliced
3 potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tomatoes, quartered
2 cups water
10 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 tsp mustard seeds
4 shallots, peeled and sliced

Curry paste :
2 tbsp meat curry powder (I use 4 tbsps)
1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
salt to taste

  1. Blend garlic and ginger into a paste and set aside. Combine curry paste ingredients and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and stir-fry cinnamon, star anise and a stalk of curry leaves.
  3. Add onions and stir-fry to a golden brown. Add garlic-ginger paste and simmer until fragrant before adding curry paste. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add potatoes, half the tomatoes and water and cook until potatoes are almost done. Add hard-boiled eggs and evaporated milk. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add remaining tomatoes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a wok. Fry mustard seeds, remaining curry leaves and shallots. When shallots brown, pour over simmering curry.
  6. Allow curry to stand for 30 minutes before serving.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #32 hosted by 
Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray
Theme for August 2018 : Cooking With Spice!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Zucchini-Cornmeal Cakes

These cake patties are originally served with Mint Chutney and Yoghurt, but I have taken the easier route of serving them with Thai Chilli Sauce instead.

The only spice used is a small amount of ground cumin (1/4 tsp) , but I have added more of it. Grated zucchini are mixed with some salt, then let sit for 10 minutes. Squeezed out the juice as much as possible, and there will be a lot of juice. Then mix the squeezed zucchini with the rest of the ingredients as per the recipe instruction. Make 2 tablespoons size balls, place in hot oil, flatten with the back of the ladle and fry until brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper towel.

I serve the Zucchini-Cornmeal Cakes with Thai Chilli Sauce and some fresh cilantro. The cornmeal adds an interesting texture. Nice cakes.

Zucchini-Cornmeal Cakes
(Dinner : Changing The Game, by Melissa Clark)
2 medium zucchini, grated (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large scallions (white and green part), minced
1 small garlic clove, grated on a microplane or minced
extra-virgin olive oil, for frying

  1. In a large colander, toss the grated zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Let it sit in the sink (or in a bowl) for 10 minutes to drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cumin, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the melted butter. Then add the egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture, whisking to make a thick batter. Squeeze as much of the remaining moisture out of the salted zucchini as possible, and then add the zucchini, scallions, and garlic to the batter; fold everything together gently.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. When the oil is hot, drop as many 2-tablespoons-sized balls of the zucchini batter into the skillet as you can to form a single layer, without the balls touching. Flatten each one with the back of a metal spoon. Fry until they are deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the zucchini cakes to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain, sprinkling them with salt to taste while they're still hot. Repeat with remaining batter.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #32 hosted by 
Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray
Theme for August 2018 : Cooking With Spice!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Raisin-Spice Buns

These little raisin buns are a regional specialty from northern Germany. The spice used is ground cardamom. According to the author, historically the buns were doused with hot milk and served with spoons. 

Instead of dividing the dough to make small buns, the dough is rolled out and small rounds are stamped out using a cookie cutter, similar to making a cut-out scone.

The little rounds are then left to rise on baking trays. Brush with egg wash ; whisk egg yolk and milk together, then brush it thinly over the tops of the risen buns. This would give the lovely deep bronze colour on the buns when fully baked.

Freshly baked with deep bronzed top.

Soft, light interior and crisp top crust. Lovely buns, great with either coffee or tea. Makes a nice breakfast and tea-time snack.

Raisin-Spice Buns (Heisswecken)
(Classic German Baking, Luisa Weiss)
Dough :
4 cups, scooped and leveled/500gm all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1-1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon/80gm granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup/120ml whole milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
7 tablespoons/100gm unsalted high-fat, European-style butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup/75gm raisins or dried currants
1/3 cup/50gm chopped candied citron peel (I have omitted this)

Egg Wash :
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon while milk

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To make the dough : Place the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and cardamom in a large bowl. Add the milk, eggs, and butter, cut into rough chunks. Knead together by hand for a minute or two in the bowl, and then dump out on a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes. Pat out the dough slightly. Place the raisins and citron peel on top; fold the dough around them and knead until everything has been well distributed. Form the dough into a ball and place in the large bowl. Cover with a clean dishcloth and set in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 hour.
  3. After 1 hour, gently tug the risen dough out of the bowl and onto your work surface. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is 1/2 inch/12mm thick. Using a 2.5-inch/6cm round biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch/12mm between the buns. Knead together the scraps, roll out again, and stamp out the remaining buns.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Cover the buns with the dishcloth and let rise for 20 minutes.
  5. To make the egg wash : Whisk together the egg yolk and milk and then brush it thinly over the tops of the risen buns.
  6. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. The buns will be deeply bronzed on top.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing the buns from the baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature. The buns are best the day they are made, but will keep at room temperature for 1 day.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #32 hosted by 
Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray
Theme for August 2018 : Cooking With Spice!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Mum's Curry Chicken (Meera Sodha)

This is Meera Sodha's ultimate comfort food, her Mum's Curry Chicken. When she left home to go to university, she constantly dream of her mum's curry chicken. Since her mum has taught her how to make it, it has become her favourite dish to share with friends. And I am glad that she has shared it in her lovely cookbook, Made In India.

From the list of ingredients, and the amount used, I can see that there would not be much sauce, and since we love sauce, especially any curry sauce, I have doubled the amount of the spice ingredients for the sauce, with the exception of the yoghurt (to taste) and the ground almonds (to taste). 

We had it for dinner with some basmathi rice cooked with some fresh curry leaves, and a side dish of Simply Spiced Spring Cabbage, from my previous post. A delicious curry dish, one that I would cook again.

The full recipe can also be found at Meera Sodha's website.

Mum's Chicken Curry
(Made In India, by Meera Sodha)
serves 4
2 tablspoons ghee or unsalted butter
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2x4cm cinnamon sticks
2 large onions, finely chopped
6cm ginger, peeled and grated
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 fresh green chillies (or 1 teaspoon chilli powder)
200gm tomato passata
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons whole-milk yoghurt (plus extra to serve)
1.2kg skinless chicken legs, or 800gm skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons ground almonds
1 teaspoon garam masala

Put the ghee and oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat and, when it's hot, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Let them infuse in the oil for a minute, and then add the onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic and green chillies into a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt and bash to a coarse paste.
Add the paste to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes, then pour in the passata and stir. Cook the passata for a few minutes until it resembles a thick paste, then add the tomato puree, ground cumin, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
Whisk the yoghurt and add it slowly to the curry. Cook it through until it starts to bubble, then add the chicken. Pop the lid on the pan and continue to cook on a gentle heat for around 30 minutes. Add the ground almonds and the garam masala and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve with a tower of chappatis, hot fluffy naan bread or rice, and offer yoghurt at the table.

kitchen flavour notes :
I have doubled the amount of spices and other ingredients for the sauce with the exception of the yoghurt (to taste) and ground almonds (to taste). The recipe above is the actual recipe from Meera Sodha's website and from her book, adjust accordingly if more sauce is desired.

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Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray
Theme for August 2018 : Cooking With Spice!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Simply Spiced Spring Cabbage

As it is called, this is an easy simply spiced spring cabbage dish. A side dish that is usually served as part of a meal with other main dishes. The author says that for a bit of variation, small cubes of potatoes can be added in. 

The author suggested that this dish is delicious when eaten with chapatti and yoghurt. I have however serve it alongside a dish of chicken curry, another recipe of hers, with basmathi rice. 

Simply Spiced Spring Cabbage
(Made In India, by Meera Sodha)
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 white cabbage (around 700gm) finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon tomato puree

Put the oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat and, when it's hot, add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the onion and fry for around 6 to 8 minutes, until it is nice and soft.
Add the shredded cabbage and 50ml of warm water, stir and pop the lid on. Allow to cook through for 5 minutes, then add the turmeric, salt, cumin, chilli powder and tomato puree. Stir, pop the lid on again and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, until the cabbage is really soft without any crunch left in it.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Coffee and Cardamom Pound Cake

When I first saw this recipe, I was curious about the combination of coffee and cardamom. I love both coffee and cardamom but have never tried them together in a bake before. I'm so glad I did. This cake is a winner!

I made half a recipe, using a half-bundt pan. I halved all of the ingredients, except for the sugar, which I've further reduced to 100gm. The cake smells amazing while baking. I skipped the icing as we are not fond of frosting, we prefer our cakes plain. I let the baked cake sit overnight and sliced it the next day.

It was moist with soft tender crumbs. A winner! I love the combination of coffee and cardamom, balances really well together. This is one cake that I would make again.

I made half of the recipe and baked in a half-size bundt pan (6-cup capacity). The recipe below is the full recipe to be baked in a 23cm bundt pan.
Coffee and Cardamom Pound Cake
(Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh)
90ml full-fat milk, at room temperature plus an extra 20ml for the coffee
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
200gm self-raising flour
100gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
300gm caster sugar
300gm unsalted butter, soft but not oily, diced, plus extra for greasing
1-1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1-1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Icing :
1-1/2 tbsp instant coffee granules
45ml full-fat milk, warmed
240gm icing sugar, sifted
30gm unsalted butter, softened

  1. Preheat the oven to 195C/175C Fan/Gas Mark 5. Grease and flour a 23-cm bundt tin and set aside.
  2. For the cake : Place the milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and lightly whisk, just to combine.
  3. Sift the flours and salt directly into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, then add the sugar and mix on a low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half of the egg mixture and continue to mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. then gradually add the remaining egg mixture, in two batches, making sure the first batch is fully incorporated before adding the next. Don't worry if your batter looks slightly split ; it's due to the large proportion of eggs in the mix, but it won't affect the final result.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and divide the mixture between two bowls. Add the ground cardamom to one bowl and fold to combine. Warm the extra 20ml of milk in a small saucepan, then place in a small bowl with the coffee granules and cocoa powder. Stir until the coffee dissolves and the consistency is that of thick but pourable milk. Combine this with the cake mixture in the second bowl.
  5. Spoon the two mixtures into the prepared tin in four alternate blocks, two of each colour, then use a skewer or small knife to make a zigzag-shaped swirl once through the mix, to create a marble effect. Do not be tempted to overdo the swirling as you will lose the effect of the marbling.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes. The cake tends to dome in the oven, so if this happens and you want a perfectly flat base (the top will become the bottom once it's inverted), just slice off the top to flatten it out before turning the cake out on a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the icing : Combine the coffee and warm milk in a small mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar to the coffee mixture, together with the soft butter. Whisk until smooth and thick, then spoon over the cooled cake, so that it drips unevenly down the sides. Allow the icing to set slightly before serving.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Coconut Jam Slice

I wanted to use up an opened jar of strawberry jam cluttering in the fridge. Found a nice recipe to use all that jam, Coconut Jam Slice. The jam is sandwiched between a buttery shortbread  base and the top is a crumbly mixture of coconut, eggs and sugar. 

One of my favourite ingredients in bake, coconut, which imparts a delicious fragrant aroma during baking. 

Lovely fragrant jam slice. Great for snacking and makes a nice tea-time treat with a cup of warm tea!

Coconut Jam Slice
(Mastering The Art Of Baking, Anneka Manning)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
5-1/2 oz chilled butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam

Topping :
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups shredded coconut, toasted

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/Gas 4. Brush the base and sides of a shallow 7x11-1/4 inch pan with melted butter or oil. Line the base and 2 long sides with a piece of nonstick parchment paper, cutting into the corners to fit, and allowing the paper to extend above the sides.
  2. Put the flours, confectioners' sugar, butter, and egg yolk in a food processor. Using the pulse button, process until the mixture starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press together until smooth. Use your fingertips to press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan.
  3. Spread the jam evenly over the cooled slice base in the pan.
  4. To make the topping, put the sugar and eggs in a medium bowl and use a balloon whisk to whisk until combined. Stir in the coconut. Spread the topping evenly over the jam, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is light golden. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan. Cut into squares or fingers to serve.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Twice-Baked Walnut Crisps

I love biscotti, the crunchy twice-baked Italian biscuits. I love eating biscotti with a mug of hot coffee or tea. This German biscuit, Twice-Baked Walnut Crisps is similar to a biscotti, but it is a healthier version, without using any butter or oil. 

Ingredients used are flour, egg whites, salt, sugar, walnuts and dried blackcurrants. Egg whites are beaten till stiff and glossy, then the rest of the ingredients are added in. Bake until light brown, then the dough is left overnight. The next day, slice the dough to 3mm thick pieces. The dough will be quite sticky on the outside at this stage.

Arrange the slices on a baking tray and bake till light brown. I prefer a crispier biscuit, so I have baked them a little longer, about 3 to 5 minutes longer. They will crisp up further as they cool.

I love these crispy biscuits. They are not too sweet and rather addictive. Great with a cup of either coffee or tea. Perfect as a tea-time treat with a mug of warm tea.

The recipe can be found here.

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