Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rum & Raisin Brownies

Moist and delightful. The rum makes a difference. There is this wonderful smell and a light taste of the rum, which I think is just nice, and not too overwhelming. The contents of the sugar, however, is too much, for me anyway. I cannot bring myself to mix in 500gm of sugar in a cake, brownie included! They may contain more chocolate and therefore more sugar is needed to balance off the bitter taste of chocolate, but 500gm?? I reduced it to 200gm initially, and as I melted the butter, sugar and cocoa powder, I add in more sugar gradually until the sweetness is just right, and stopped at 300gm, no more! And I have not used this much of sugar in a cake before! (feeling guilty as it is!) The result is a moist and delicious, not-to-sweet rum and raisin brownie.

Rum and Raisin Brownies(adapted from "brownies & bars" by Liz Franklin)
Makes 15
Preparation Time : 1 hour, plus 30 minutes soaking. You will need a lightly buttered roasting tin or cake tin measuring 20 x 30 cm/8 x 12 inches

Ingredients :
50 gm /1-3/4 oz raisins
3 tbsp rum
250 gm / 9 oz butter
500 gm /1 lb 2 oz caster sugar (I only use 300gm)
100 gm / 3-1/2 oz cocoa powder
4 eggs, beaten
100 gm / 3-1/2 oz self-raising flour
100 gm / 3-1/2 oz walnuts, roughly chopped
Method :

  1. Pour the rum over the raisins and set them aside to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa powder together. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Stir in the eggs into the cocoa mixture and fold in the flour. Stir in the raisins and soaking liquid, together with the walnuts. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes, or until just firm but still slightly fudgy.
  4. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Watermelon Sorbetto

A refreshing, delightful, delicious watermelon sorbet. Everyone loves watermelon, I have not met anyone who doesn't like watermelon!

Look at the delicious colour of the watermelon.

Can you see the black "seeds" in the popsicle? That's the mini chocolate chips! My popsicle moulds are 'drip-proof', the melted juices will be collected at the bottom and simply suck it all away from the pout, no wastage, no mess! Good to the last drop! This is really fun for the kids. They love to suck on the accumulated juice. Another excellent recipe from David Lebovitz.

Watermelon Sorbetto
(adapted from "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz)

Ingredients :

3 cups (750 ml) watermelon juice (see note)
1/2 cup (100 gm) sugar
big pinch of salt
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 to 2 tbsp vodka (optional)
1 to 2 tbsp mini semisweet chocolate chips

Method :
In a small, nonreactive saucepan, heat about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the watermelon juice with the sugar and salt, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir the sugared syrup into the remaining 2-1/2 cups (625 ml) watermelon juice in a medium bowl. Mix in the lime juice and vodka, if using.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last minute of churning, add the mini chocolate chips.

Note : I find that I get about 3 cups (750 ml) of watermelon juice from a 3-pound (1-1/2 kg) chunk of watermelon. Cut away the rind, remove any seeds, and then cut the juicy, pink fresh into cubes and puree them in a blender or food processor. Any extra juice can be frozen for another use, such as watermelon margaritas.

Perfect Pairing : This sorbetto makes excellent Watermelon Popsicle. Simply pour the mixture into plastic popsicle moulds and freeze until very firm.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake

Wow, this cake is extremely moist, full of banana flavour. With the addition of shredded coconuts, this is really rich. On top of this, it is further enhance with a little rum. The smell is heavenly, when the cake is being baked in the oven, you can smell the banana, coconut and rum all at once! I reduced the sugar, but it is still a little bit sweet for me, one slice is enough as I think that this is very filling! If you really love banana, then one slice is definitely not enough. Be sure to share this cake, unless you decide to freeze and have it later. I only bake half the recipe.

It is actually very interesting to see some of the bakers' comments from "Tuesdays with Dorie" on this cake.

"Tuesdays with Dorie" is a group of home bakers who each must have a copy of this book and the bakers each has a turn to choose their selected recipe from this book. Interesting! There are other groups with their own selected books too. It is actually a good idea, at least this will keep you baking from the book instead of leaving it on your bookshelf, waiting until you have the time to try them out! Some of this books can be very expensive.

This was the cake that was picked last week, and since I have the book, and couldn't decide which recipe to do, I thought that I would just follow along.
This banana cake has won the hearts of the bakers! Someone even commented that this cake is light. As for me, I think this cake is definitely not light, it is not heavy either, just as the way Dorie Greenspan describes it best,

"If you make the cake with the ingredients listed first below, you'll get a consistency that isn't heavy but not featherweight either. It has enough substance to chew on, but it's light enough to entice you to go back for a second serving.....or a third."

This cake is way too sweet for me, but on the other hand, it is extremely moist and smells wonderful!

Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake
(adapted from "Baking: From My Home To Yours" by Dorie Greenspan)
Ingredients :
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1-1/2 sticks (12 tbsps) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar (or granulated sugar) ( I use about 65gm brown sugar, for half recipe)
3/4 cup sugar (I use 1/4 cup, about 60gm, for half recipe)
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsps dark rum or Malibu coconut rum (optional)
about 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (you should have 1-1/2 - 1-3/4 cups)
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, regular (stir well before measuring) or "lite" (or whole milk, buttermilk, sour cream or plain yogurt) (I use whole milk)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, preferably toasted (or an equal amount of moist, plump dried fruit, such as currants, raisins, chopped apricots, cranberries, blueberries or halved cherries, or a combination of coconut and dried fruits)

Method :
Getting ready :
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 9x2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla and rum. You'll have a beautiful satiny batter. Now lower the speed and add the bananas - the batter will curdle, but that's fine; it will come together as you add the remaining ingredients. Still on low speed, add the dry and liquid ingredients alternately, adding the flour mixture in 3 portions and the coconut milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). Mix just until everything is incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir in the coconut. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cakes are a deep golden brown. They should start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a thin knife inserted into their centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmould and invert onto another rack to cool to room temperature right side up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chocolate and Orange Marble Squares

This is a lovely cake. I wouldn't call it a moist cake, but it is definitely not dry either. The texture is just nice and soft. I will definitely make this again, only this time I will try adding some instant coffee to the cocoa mixture to make "Mocha and Orange Marble Squares". This lovely recipe is from one of the books on my shelf "brownies and bars" by Liz Franklin. There are many lovely recipes in this book and I am really looking forward to make every one of them!

Chocolate and Orange Marble Squares
(adapted from "brownies & bars" by Liz Franklin)
Makes 15
Preparation time : 1 hour and 10 minutes.
You will need a lightly buttered deep roasting tin or cake tin measuring 20 x 30 cm/8 x 12 inches

Ingredients :
250 gm / 9 oz butter
250 gm / 9 oz sugar (I use 180 gm)
4 eggs, beaten
250 gm / 9 oz self-raising flour, sifted
juice and zest of 1 orange (I got 1/3 cup)
3 tbsps cocoa powder

Method :
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / gas mark 4.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, stirring in between each addition, until the mixture is smooth and all the eggs are incorporated. Stir in the flour. Add the orange juice and zest. Spoon half of the mixture in dollops randomly over the base of the prepared cake tin.

Add the cocoa powder to the remaining mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Spoon the mixture in between the dollops of the orange mixture. Drag a wooden spoon handle lightly through the mixtures to create a slight swirl effect.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or so, until golden and springy.

Cool in the tin and cut into squares. Store them in an airtight container.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stir-Fry Lotus Root with Water Chestnut and Sweet Peas

Another stir-fry vegetable dish. I love stir-fry dishes. This way, you can really taste the crunchiness and sweetness of the vegetables without it being overcooked. I could just finish one bowl of this dish by myself! A little bit of oyster sauce is added in for flavour. Do not be too tempted to add more, or it will dominate the taste of this dish. Just a little will do to bring out the flavour of the vegetables.

Stir-Fry Lotus Roots with Water Chestnut and Sweet Peas

Ingredients :

2 small lotus roots
6-8 water chestnuts
10-12 sweet peas
5 baby corn
1 small carrot
2 clove garlic (chopped)
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp chicken seasoning
1-2 tsp oyster sauce
pinch of salt
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp oil

Method :
  1. Clean lotus roots, cut off hard joints and scrap off skin with a knife. Peel skin of water chestnut. Cut lotus roots,carrots, water chestnuts and baby corn into bite-sized cubes. Cut sweet peas into 2 or 3 sections diagonally.
  2. Put lotus roots, carrots and baby corns in a bowl, drizzle with a little oil and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Keep aside uncovered.
  3. Heat oil. Saute chopped garlic. Stir in precooked vegetables and stir for a few seconds. Add in sweet peas and water chestnuts. Stir and add in water, oyster sauce, chicken seasoning and pinch of salt. Stir for a further 2 minutes. Add in the Chinese cooking wine , stir and dish out to a serving plate. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Bento Moment!

Bento. It was a nice change from the usual style of dinner. Actually the dishes are cooked the usual way, only the presentation is different, Bento sytle. But the kids don't know that, they think that mommy is so clever, mommy can prepare a delicious "japanese dinner", "mommy, can we bring bento to school for lunch?"LOL! It is fun actually, preparing it Bento sytle. I wanted it to be a surprise, so I told my kids not to come in to the dining area until I say so. When I gave the green light, they rushed in to the dining hall and exclaimed with delight when they saw their Bento dinner! In that instant, I was promoted from mommy to "clever mommy"! He! He! Such bliss!

This is the first bento style dinner that I made, looks like it won't be the last either! So, all you mommies out there, if you have not prepared dinner or lunch in bento style before, and to enjoy the few moments when your kids say "clever mommy", go ahead, with a little imagination, you will enjoy a short-term celebrity moment. They wanted me to surprise their father too, he came back later, and surprise.... yes, he was surprised! "Short-term celebrity home chef"! It's fun, seriously!

I did not plan on doing Bento for dinner, but I bought some chicken and tofu from the market and was wondering what to cook for dinner. Then, Bento came to mind and I started to "search for hidden treasures" in my fridge. There's a pack of miso paste which I bought about two months back and forgotten all about it. Great! Miso soup. We love miso soup. There's half a pumpkin and some french beans. That's it, Bento is on the way.

The miso paste (soybean paste) and the bonito stock

Looks like I have to get more utensils and ingredients for my future Bento meals! My kids are already planning that I should do this again when their cousins come over for visits! The next Bento meal is going to take some planning, complete with the green tea!

Here's my very simple, easy Bento menu and recipe :

Bento - Chicken Teriyaki
2 chicken breast fillet, sliced
3 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp honey
some black pepper
Just mix them all together and marinate for about an hour.
Heat some oil or butter and pan-fried both sides till brown and cooked.

French Beans

Clean and cut to halves. Put in bowl, add some salt and drizzle some oil. Microwave on high for 2 - 3 minutes.


Clean and cut pumpkin into wedges or bite-sized chunks. Put in bowl, add some salt and drizzle some oil. Steam for about 7-10 minutes or till soft.

Simple salad
1 green apple (shredded)
1 pear (shredded)
1 small carrot (shredded)
1 small cucumber (discard centre and shredded green part only)
Mix them all together with any salad dressing and refrigerate.

Miso Soup
1 sachet Bonito seasoning
8 cups of water
3-1/2 tbsps miso paste (or to taste)
some ready-to-eat natural flavoured seaweed, cut to small pieces
1 pc soft tofu (cut to small pieces)
some chopped spring onions

Boil 8 cups of water with Bonito seasoning (or as per instruction on packaging). Add in tofu pieces and seaweed. Let it boil for a few minutes. Place 3 tablespoons of miso paste in a bowl. Scoop about half a cup of the boiling soup into the miso paste bowl and stir till evenly mix. Pour this mixture into the boiling soup and turn off flame. Stir to combine. Do not allow soup to boil after the miso paste has been added in.
Serve hot or cold, garnish with some chopped spring onions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lemon Bliss Cake

If you like lemons, really love lemons, then this is it. Bake this cake! This cake is so full of lemon flavour and so lemony fragrant. That's not all, the texture is so velvety soft, delicate and moist. This is one buttery, lemony, yummy cake! I reduced the sugar (as usual!), for both the cake and the glazing. It turned out just right, perfect for us. I was unsure if the drastic reduction of sugar may affect the texture of the cake, but it did not! With the brushing of the glaze, it came out perfectly moist! Thanks to, this recipe will definitely be used again and again.

Lemon Bliss Cake
(source from :

Ingredients :

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar (I use 260gm, about 1-1/4 cups)
1 tsp salt (I use 1/2 tsp, the butter is salted)
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I use 375gm cake flour)
1 cup milk
finely grated rind of 2 lemons OR 3/4 tsp lemon oil (I use 3 lemon zest)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar (I use 1/3 cup)

Directions :
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 10" tube pan, or a 9" to 10", 9 to 10 cup capacity bundt-style pan.
  1. Beat together the butter, sugar and salt, first till combined, then till fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add the baking powder, then add the flour alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until smooth. Stir in the grated lemon rind or lemon oil.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  5. Bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the glaze by stirring together the lemon juice and sugar. Set aside.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack. After 5 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, and turn the cake out onto a rack. Place another rack on top, and flip it over, so it's right-side-up.
  8. Poke the hot cake all over with a cake tester or toothpick.
  9. Stir the glaze to combine, and immediately brush it on the hot cake. Let it sink in, then brush on more glaze, continuing until all the glaze is used up.
  10. Allow the cake to cool before slicing.
(my notes : watch out for the baking time, mine was done at 50 minutes. For the glaze, I melt the mixture over low heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring, until it turns slightly syrupy. Remove and keep aside until ready to use)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Asparagus with Teriyaki Prawns

A tasty and easy dish for dinner. Just 3 ingredients and teriyaki sauce. I used the Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce with Roasted Garlic, but any teriyaki sauce will do. I bought some organic baby asparagus from the market to prepare some pasta lunch for my kids, and have some left in the fridge. Wondering what to do with it, well.. I have some prawns in the freezer, a bottle of teriyaki sauce, put them all together with the addition of crispy fried garlic, this is the dish on my dinner table. My family love this! I have a request to cook this again!

Asparagus with Teriyaki Prawns
Ingredients :
250 gm baby asparagus
15-20 medium-sized prawns
6-8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp water
some cooking oil
salt to taste

Method :
  1. Clean asparagus and cut to 2" sections.
  2. Clean prawns, remove shell but leave the tails intact. Devein prawns and marinate with 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce and sugar for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Heat about 4 tbsp oil. Fry sliced garlic till brown and crispy. Dish out and set aside.
  4. Remove some oil (keep aside to be used later) and leave about 1 tablespoon in wok. Fry chopped garlic till brown and fragrant, add in asparagus. Stir and add in about 1 tablespoon hot water and salt to taste. Stir for a further 3 minutes or until asparagus are cooked. Dish out to a serving plate.
  5. Pour back the retained oil earlier into the wok. Add in prawns together with the marinade juices and stir, adding some salt to taste. Keep on stirring until prawns are cooked, about 4-5 minutes. When prawns are cooked, add in the remainder 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce. Give a quick stir and dish out to the serving plate, placing the prawns on the asparagus. Garnish with fried garlic crisp. Enjoy !

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fruited Muesli Bread

This is the first recipe that I've chosen from my latest bread making book, "the bread book" by Sara Lewis (a gift from my sister). The instructions given are really clear and easy to follow. She has given two options, either to make by hand or to make with a breadmaker. I chose to make it by hand instead, since the instructions seems easy enough, it doesn't require long kneading process, which I'm lazy at most of the time. However, this is baked in a 8" springform baking tin, there is no picture of this bread in the book, so I can only imagine that it will turned out looking very much like a cake. I thought of making it in a loaf pan instead, but since this is the first time that I'm trying a recipe from this book, I decided to follow it all the way. It turned out to be a lovely tasty bread, and it does look like a cake, at a glance! The texture is dense, soft and moist. The addition of dried cranberries and apricots makes this bread rather chewy and tasty. It can be eaten plain just as it is which is really nice or just spread it with a little butter. Will I be making this bread again? Yes, I will, when I feel like having a chewy, moist and tasty bread, I will definitely make this again.

Fruited Muesli Bread
(adapted from "the bread book" by Sara Lewis)
Ingredients :
475 gm (15 oz, 4-1/2 cups) strong white flour
2 tbsp milk powder
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
100 gm (3-1/2 oz, 1/2 cup) fruit muesli
1-1/4 tsp fast-action dried yeast
300 ml (1/2 pint, 1-1/4 cups) water (I only used about 250ml)
100 gm (3-1/2 oz, 1/2 cup) ready-to-eat dried apricots
50 gm (2 oz, 1/4 cup) dried cranberries

To Finish :
1 egg yolk, to glaze
3 tbsp muesli, to decorate (I use rolled oats instead)

To make by hand :
  1. Put the flour, milk powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the muesli and yeast then gradually mix in enough warm water to mix to a soft dough.
  2. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic then put back into the bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  3. Tip the dough out on to the work surface, knead well then gradually work in the chopped apricots and cranberries.
  4. Shape the dough into a round then press into a greased 20 cm (8 inch) springform tin. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for 30 minutes or until the dough is at the top of the tin.
  5. Remove the clingfilm, brush the top of the bread with the egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water. Sprinkle with extra muesli and bake in a preheated oven, 200C (400F), Gas Mark 6, for 35-40 minutes until well risen and the bread sounds hollow when tapped with the fingertips. Cover with foil after 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning.
  6. Holding the tin with oven gloves, loosen the bread with a palette knife. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To make with a breadmaker
  1. Take the loaf tin out of the bread machine, fit the kneader blade then add the measured cold water, milk powder, butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
  2. Spoon the flour and muesli over the top then make a slight dip and sprinkle in the yeast. (Make a slight dip into the centre of the flour making sure that the yeast will not come into contact with the liquid. This is especially important of you are using the delay timer facility. Measure the yeast carefully and sprinkle it into the dip).
  3. Insert the tin into the bread machine. Shut the lid and set to dough or basic dough. Press start.
  4. At the end of the programme, lift the tin out of the machine, tip the dough out on to a floured work surface and continue as step 3, above.
Tip : This bread can be mixed and baked in a bread machine fitted with a 2.5 litre (4 pint) bread tin, but halve the amount of fruit and add it at the raisin beep instead.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Swedish Pancakes

A great after school snack. The kids are always hungry when they reached home, it is way after lunch time and not quite dinner time yet, so I have to constantly think of a light snack until its time for dinner. This is supposed to be small round pancakes, but I only have a small round saucepan and it would take "forever" to finish off the batter. So I make them bigger, and roll them up like a crepe. Fantastic, finish it in no time at all! Just in time when they reached home, still warm, drizzle with honey, they love it!

The batter is easy and quick to put together, but the batter is quite thin, not like other pancakes which has a thicker consistency. This produces a soft and light pancake which is absolutely delicious with honey, there is no sugar in the batter itself, so the pairing with honey is perfect.

Swedish Pancake
(adapted from "The Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum)
Ingredients :

room temperature :
4 large eggs
1/2 cup (116 gm) heavy cream
1 cup + 2 tbsp (145 gm) cake flour OR 1 cup (measured by dip and sweep method) 145gm all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (363 gm) milk
3 tbsp (43 gm)unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp (25 gm) clarified butter **

Method :
In large bowl beat the eggs and cream. Add the flour and beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining ingredients. The batter is quite thin.

Pour 2-1/2 inch rounds of batter (1 tbsp) onto a hot griddle, lightly greased with clarified butter between each batch. Cook over medium-high heat 1-1/2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side for 30 seconds or until lightly brown. The pancake will be 1/8 inch thick.

Remove the pancakes to warm plates and keep warm in a low oven while cooking the remaining batter. Makes 4 dozen pancakes.

** If you do not have clarified butter on hand, you will need to clarify 3 tbsps (43 gm) unsalted butter. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter over medium heat, partially covered to prevent splattering. When it looks clear, cook, uncovered, watching carefully until the solids drop and begin to brown. Pour immediately through a fine strainer or a strainer lined with cheesecloth.

(my notes : I skipped the clarified butter! Too lazy!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Green Tea Ice Cream

Living in tropical weather sure is an advantage where ice cream is concerned. You can have it all year round! Not that any kind of seasons will keep you from having one if you are overly crazy over ice cream. This is the first ice-cream that I chose from my latest collections of recipe books, David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop" and it is delicious! I reduced about 3 tablespoons of sugar from the original and it turned out just right. The colour is not as green, I have to start looking for a really good quality japanese green tea powder, that would make a whole lot of difference! This is a really great book, with lots of tips and pointers and the great thing is that most of the ingredients are readily available over here too! So, if you have an ice-cream maker and a great book like this, there's no reason not to make some delicious homemade ice-cream. Just as David Lebovitz says, prepare to be vowed!

Green Tea Ice Cream
(adapted from "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz)
~ makes about 1 quart (1 liter) ~
Ingredients :
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150 gm) sugar (I reduce about 3 tbsps)
pinch of salt
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
4 tsps matcha (green tea powder)
6 large egg yolks

Method :
Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk in the green tea powder. Set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking , then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream, then whisk it vigorously until the custard is frothy to dissolve the green tea powder. Stir until cool over ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Perfection Pound Cake / Isn't Birthdays Fun?

This is a lovely recipe from my latest collection of recipe books on baking, a birthday gift from my younger sister, thank you sis, for this fantastic book, "Dorie Greenspan - Baking From My Home To Yours". It is a big and thick book with over 200 recipes! I was so excited and couldn't decide which one to start with. So I text her to randomly choose a page. She chose this. What a perfect recipe to start off my baking adventures from this lovely book.

That's not all! I have three other fantastic books. "The Bread Book" by Sara Lewis, from my youngest sis, who knows I love making breads, thank you so much little sis. "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz, from my hubby. I have been "eyeing' this book for quite sometime now, and now, I own one! "150 Delicious Squares" by Companys Coming Kitchen Cookbooks, from my children. It is a lovely book on bars, slices and squares. I will definitely be kept busy, either from making these lovely recipes or keep my nose buried in these books whenever I can!

Check these out !



This little notebook is from my son, he bought it from his school bookshop, for me to use for my little 'grocery shopping list' !

This is my birthday cake, baked by yours truly, me... My son says "Mommy, nobody bakes their own birthday cake!" He thought it was funny, well, I thought so too....he! he! It was Lemon Peach Mousse Cake (vanilla sponge cake with slices of peaches and lemon mousse filling and decorated with fruits and fresh cream topping)

This is the cake I made for my son's birthday, a week earlier than mine, Chocolate Banana Cake (with chocolate cream and slices of fresh banana filling, and chocolate ganache topping with image icing)

Isn't birthdays fun?

Back to Perfection Pound Cake. This is indeed a lovely recipe. The aroma fills the house when this cake in the oven. It came out well, with a crack on top, just as it should be. The texture is not dry and it is not too moist either, somewhere in between. I have tried it toasted as suggested, and it is surprisingly good. As usual, I reduce the sugar, here's the recipe :

Perfection Pound Cake (adapted from "Baking From My House To Yours" by Dorie Greenspan) Ingredients :
2 cups all-purpose flour or 2-1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (I use 3/4 cup)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method :
Getting ready : Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch loaf pan. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater and reduce the mixer speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each egg goes in. As you're working, scrape down the bowl and beater often. Mix in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated - don't overmix. In fact, you might want to fold in the last of the flour, or even all of it, by hand with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Put the cake into the oven to bake, and check on it after about 45 minutes. If it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. If you using a 9 x 5 pan, you'll need to bake the cake for 70 to 75 minutes; the smaller pan needs about 90 minutes. The cake is properly baked when a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 30 minutes. Run a blunt knife between the cake and side of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.

(my notes : Mine was done at about 50 minutes)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Buttery Rolls

This bun bread is so perfectly soft and bursting with butter flavour! I have made this several times since I found this recipe which was about, maybe almost a year ago. It is such a delightful bun to make, so super easy and quick. The texture is soft, and it stays soft the next day too. I just ate it plain with a cup of hot steaming black coffee, no cream please, just plain black coffee. Yum... It is really, really good. Can you tell from the picture below how fluffy this bread is?? . Believe me, it is very fluffy, soft, tasty and just fantastic! Well, don't take my word for it... go on, do a batch and decide for yourself!

I got this wonderful recipe from, contributed by Debbie Leonard. (Thank you Debbie for sharing this gorgeous bread). There were over 200 reviews for this recipe and all the reviews rated this as either 4 stars or 5 stars. Go check it out and try it out. You will be reaching for the second piece before your coffee gets cold!

The dough is mixed using the bread machine at basic dough setting, after that, just roll and shape away. Already planning to do this again this week by baking this fluffy bun in a muffin pan, and it will be great as burger buns for lunch.

Buttery Rolls
(source from : ~ submitted by Debbie Leonard)

Ingredients :

1 cup warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp salt
4 cups bread flour
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Method :
  1. In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing : add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).
  2. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 24 portions; shape into balls. Place in a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 13-16 minutes or until golden brown.
(my notes : dough should be soft but not sticky. I roll them into 75- 80 gm balls and got about 13 rolls. I put 9 rolls in a 7" square baking pan and the other 4 in a small round pan. I then let it rise for about 30 - 35 minutes.)

Updated post :
I made another batch two days later :
I mould them into 180gm balls and roll them swiss roll style with ham and cheese as filling, bake 3 rolls in a loaf pan. Delicious. So soft and fluffy. Will be making this again next week as savoury bun, sardine perhaps.... perfect as breakfast for the kids.

With cheese

With ham

Fragrant Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage

Fried rice is an easy alternative meal that can be prepared in a jiffy. All you need is some cold cooked rice and as for the ingredients, simply "dump" in any leftover meat or vegetables, add some seasoning and that's it, you will have a bowl of meal.

Fried rice is really so popular among children, not that I'm surprised, being a fan of fried rice myself! Even though, fried rice can be found sold in almost all hawker centres and restaurants, it is really very difficult to get really very good ones that will keep you going back for more. They are usually laden with monosodium glutamate that is so obvious in every spoonful! I prefer homecooked ones.

For my kids' lunch after school today, I have cooked 'fragrant fried rice' for them. This will certainly please them as it is one of their favourite meal.

This is a simple meal with simple ingredients. You will need some chinese sausages. Other ingredients like ginger, garlic, shallots and eggs, I'm sure these can be found in your kitchen. Give this a try. It is really a tasty, hearty and satisfying meal.

Ingredients for fragrant fried rice

Chinese sausage after stir-fried

A mixture of fried garlic, shallots and ginger.

Fragrant Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage
Ingredients :

3 cups cold cooked rice
4 chinese sausages
6 cloves garlic
6 shallots
1 piece ginger (about 2" long)
3 large eggs
1 tbsp light soy sauce
salt to taste
dash of pepper
dash of sesame oil

Method :
  1. Chop garlic, sliced shallots to thin slices, slice ginger to julienne strips, cut chinese sausages into half lengthwise and cut to thin slices. Lightly beat eggs and season with 1 tsp light soy sauce and dash of pepper.
  2. Heat about 2 tbsp oil. Fry chopped garlic until light brown and crispy. Dish out to a plate. In same oil, fry shallots till light brown and crispy. Dish out to the same plate. Add a little more oil if not enough. Fry ginger till light brown and crispy. Dish out to the same plate. Keep aside.
  3. In the same oil, fry chinese sausages for about 30 seconds. Dish out to another plate. Keep aside.
  4. In the same oil, pour the eggs in and just when it is about to set, scramble them into pieces and fry for about 1-2 minutes. Add in cold cooked rice and stir till evenly mixed. Add in the chinese sausages and stir for about 2 minutes. Add in about 1 tbsp light soy sauce, dash of sesame oil and salt to taste. Keep stirring for another minute or two.
  5. Lastly, add the mixed fried garlic, shallots and ginger. Stir to mix well. Serve.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Extra-Nutty Brownies

Brownies! How anyone resist the temptation of brownies! Especially if you are a chocoholic, the sight of a chocolate covered brownies is enough to make you drool! Well, drool no more, make a batch of this and savour to your hearts content. Forget about the calories, the fats, the sugars, just this once! If you feel guilty about it, then eat a slice, maybe two, giveaway the rest to your friends or a neighbour (make sure that the person you're giving to really appreciate chocolates!, otherwise it will be sitting in their refrigerator until the next "fridge-spring-clean"!!!)

These Extra-Nutty Brownies are really delicious. If you like them sticky and fudgy, follow the baking time indicated, otherwise, bake them a little longer. As for me, I like them a little bit set, more like a cake texture, but not quite! So I bake them 10 minutes longer. This recipe calls for extra nuts on the chocolate icing, but I omitted them, since both my daughter and myself are not exactly crazy over nuts. I like nuts, but too much of it, dominates the flavour and texture of the whole cake. You'll be chewing with bits and pieces of the nuts rather than the cake itself! But if you are nuts over nuts, then by all means, indulge! The choc icing is a little too sweet for me, even though I reduced the sugar. I think the next time (yes, I will definitely be baking this again!), I'm gonna try bitter chocolate topping with no sugar.

Extra-Nutty Brownies
(adapted from "brownies" by Linda Collister)
"Walnuts have a creamy, bittersweet taste that contrasts well with the sweetness of the brownie mixture. Here, there is a high proportion of walnuts to mixture, plus a fudgy walnut topping. For a deeper flavour toast the nuts for 10 minutes in the oven before adding to both the brownie and topping mixtures."

Ingredients :

100gm good quality plain chocolate
115gm unsalted butter
200gm light brown muscovado sugar (1 use 170gm)
1/2 tsp real vanilla essence
2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
100gm plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
150gm walnut pieces

Icing :
50gm good-quality plain chocolate
50gm unsalted butter
2 tbsp milk
100gm icing sugar (I use 70gm)
50gm walnut pieces

a brownie tin, 20.5 x 25.5cm, greased and base-lined

Method :
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas 4. Break up chocolate and put it in a heatproof mixing bowl with the butter. Set the bowl over a pan of steaming water and melt gently, stirring frequently.
  2. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together as a smooth batter.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa into the bowl and stir in. When thoroughly combined stir in the nuts. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread evenly.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until just firm to the touch. Remove the tin from the oven. Leave to cool completely then carefully remove the brownie from the tin.
  5. Meanwhile make the icing : melt the chocolate and butter as above. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the milk.
  6. Sift the cocoa and icing sugar into the bowl and stir in. When thick and smooth stir in the nuts. Spread the icing over the cooled, baked brownie.
  7. Once the topping is firm, cut the brownie into 20 pieces. Store in an airtight container and eat within 4 days.