Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tomato Rice

I came to learn about Tessa Kiros through I Heart Cooking Clubs. I have never heard of her before that. Even though I've only tried a few of her recipes, all those recipes are really good. Her pasta recipe, Daniele's Tomato Pasta, is my kids' most favourite spaghetti, the one that they often asked for, the most. I have made about a dozen times since then. They call this dish, "Fresh Pasta", simply because there's no cooking involved, other than cooking the spaghetti till al dente, and tossing the pasta with the prepared mixture (made a few hours in advance to mingle the flavours), of cherry tomatoes, olive oil, capers, garlic, fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper. My daughter has brought this spaghetti dish to school a couple of times, always with an extra container packed, to share with her friends, as they loved it too! 

During the last month of cooking with Tessa, I have bought one of her books, Piri Piri Starfish, as it was on sale, and I was so happy to take it home, as her books are rather expensive. It is a beautiful book with recipes and anecdotes from her travels to Portugal. So far, I have tried only one recipe from the book and many more are bookmarked, yet never did find the time to try them out. This Tomato Rice was one of them. When I made Yotam Ottolenghi's Roasted Chicken with Chili and Basil, I was looking for some rice recipe that I could make to go with the chicken. And this Tomato Rice is just the one!

According to Tessa, this is a kind of "everywhere" dish, served alongside grilled prawns, flattened chickens or grilled fish, not usually meant to be in the leading role, but it's very good all the same. And if you like, some veggies can be added in, such as celery, zucchini and carrots, and even some herbs like rosemary. One word of advise from Tessa is to use really ripe tomatoes, otherwise use the canned ones, better than not-quite-ripe-enough tomatoes.

I have used ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, but have omitted the red capsicum as I have forgotten to buy it. Medium-grain rice is used, and I have used Calrose rice. Chopped onions are firstly sauteed in oil till golden, add the capsicum (if using), garlic, parsley and bay leaf, stir for a minute until the garlic is fragrant, then add the tomatoes, paprika, butter, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing the tomatoes with the spoon, leaving some visible chunks. Add the rice, stir to mix the flavours, and add 4 cups of water. I find that 4 cups is a little too much, I added in 3 cups at first and added in half a cup more during cooking when I feel that the rice needs it. Continue cooking as per the instructions in the recipe.

Just as Tessa describes, this Tomato Rice is not meant to be in the leading role, but it is good all the same. To me, it is very good! The family likes it. Perfect alongside the Roasted Chicken. Very tasty and I can see why ripe tomatoes are really important here. The caramelized onions are just so good, I can get bites of it in every spoonful. Next time I'll add on more chopped parsley. I could eat this Tomato Rice alone as a one-pot meal. Delicious. Another winner recipe from Tessa.

Tomato Rice
(adapted from "Piri piri Starfish", by Tessa Kiros)
Serves 4-6
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small red pepper (capsicum), seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 small fresh bay leaf
4 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 400 gm/14 oz tin chopped tomatoes)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
20 gm (3/4 oz) butter
coarse salt
400 gm (2 cups) medium-grain rice (I use calrose rice)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion until sticky and golden. Add the pepper and cook until everything is jammy and turning golden. Add the garlic, parsley and bay leaf and, when you start to smell the garlic, add the tomatoes, paprika, butter, about 2 teaspoons of coarse salt and a little pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing up the tomatoes a bit but still leaving a few chunks.

Add the rice and turn it through well to mix in the flavours. Add 1 litre (4 cups) (I use only 3-1/2 cups) of water, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, checking that nothing is sticking. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice, cover and leave for 10 minutes before you serve. Fluff it through again - it should have absorbed most of the liquid and be just right, in which case serve immediately. If it's too firm, leave it covered for a while longer. Best hot, but also good at room temperature.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Roast Chicken with Chili and Basil : IHCC - Thank You Ottolenghi

"Oh, Ottolenghi", our theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), and this will be the last week that we are cooking with Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes. We, at IHCC have been cooking from his recipes for six months now, and it has been an incredible six delicious months. I have discovered and learned to enjoy using ingredients like harissa and sumac, something that I have heard of before, but have only started to use them during our term with Ottolenghi. 

Ottolenghi has the knack of combining ingredients and spices that never fails to deliver, to sum it all, Ottolenghi is one fantastic outstanding chef. I will definitely "see him" again, during our Potluck themes in the months to come, and I believe, so will my friends at IHCC.

Today, I'm sharing one of Ottolenghi's chicken recipe and have done a roundup of all Ottolenghi's dishes that I've cooked from the last six months, since I cannot make up my mind which are my most favourites! 

Roast Chicken with Chili and Basil
The basil is only for garnishing and which I have completely forgotten, until after the meal! haha!

Chicken pieces are marinated in a mixture of Dijon mustard, sesame oil, sunflower oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, dried chili flakes, scallions, coarsely ground black pepper and salt to taste. Leave the chicken in the fridge, covered, for about 4 hours. A little touch of Asian which I find in this dish, with the usage of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Remove chicken from the fridge about 20 minutes before roasting. Transfer chicken pieces to a roasting tray and bake for about 35-40 minutes until cooked through. Arrange chicken on serving plate, pour the roasting juices over and served garnished with fresh basil leaves. I just served it family-style with the whole roasting pan on the dining table! Haha! That was why I have forgotten about the basil!

Delicious! It is not spicy at all, perfect for the family. And the chili on the plate, yes, it's for me, and I finished the chili as well.

I served this roasted chicken with Tomato Rice (a delicious Tessa Kiros recipe, will be sharing in next post, here), and some greens. Another keeper recipe from Ottolenghi. 

Roast Chicken with Chili and Basil
(source from : here)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp dried chili flakes
3 scallions
2 chicken legs
2 chicken breasts
2-4 mild red chilies
8 basil leaves for garnish
seas salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, whisk the oils, mustard, soy sauce, vinegar and chili flakes. Season with a little salt and some pepper.
Roughly chop the scallions and add them to the sauce with the chicken and the whole chilies. With your hands, rub the chicken well with marinade and keep refrigerated for 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chicken in a roasting tray and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through.
Arrange the chicken on a serving plate, place the chilies on top and pour the juices on. Garnish with basil.

Roundup of all Ottolenghi's dishes 

This post is linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC)

We are moving on from Mediterranean to Australia,  I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) will be starting with the next featured chef, Donna Hay, starting from October. For more details about joining in, please click here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hokkaido Milk Bread : Bake-Along #52

It's Bake-Along time, and for this week, my baking buddy, Lena from Frozen Wings has selected a theme bake, Hokkaido Milk Bread, which we are baking together with Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids. I'm so glad that this theme was chosen as this has been on my list of to-try for ages. Completely forgotten about it, as there are just too many bakes that I want to try. Surprisingly, there are not many recipes of this bread on-line. Most of the recipes posted are taken from the same source. I supposed these recipes are the basic ones that you could work on to make filled breads or buns.

I've used the recipe from Christine's Recipes, which she has adapted from another source, and gives a nice soft and fluffy bread.

The secret of the soft and fluffy bread is the tangzhong starter. Water and flour are cooked until slightly thickened, best at 65C, I followed Christine's method of stirring until you notice some lines appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon. Let cool to room temperature and can be used straight away for making bread or keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days (up to three days).

I've used the bread machine to do the kneading, just as Christine had done, remove the dough at the end of the Dough cycle, divide the dough into two halves, and each half into three portions, and shaped as per instructions. The dough was really soft but not sticky, similar to the dough of a brioche. 

The bread bakes up nice and soft. During the making of the bread, I realised that this is actually similar to the one that I've made, here,  from Alex Goh's recipe, where he has used Flour Gelatinised method, where the flour is mixed with boiling water, stir vigorously to a paste and left in the refrigerator for a minimum of 12 hours before use. I can't help comparing, and find that the one from Alex Goh's recipe using Flour Gelatinised method, makes a softer and moister bread, and keep soft for days. I much prefer the gelatinised method (and easier too!), to this tangzhong (water roux) method. But I'm really glad that I've given this tangzhong method a try, as it does makes a soft bread.

Overall, using Tangzhong Method does gives a soft and very nice bread, very good with a generous spread of salted butter or cream cheese spread. It stays soft on the next 2 days too.

Since I did not make any changes to the recipe, to get the full recipe for this bread and steps for making the tangzhong, please get it from Christine's Recipes

To join our blog hop, bake any Hokkaido Milk Bread and link your post to our Bake-Along linky.
Please visit my baking buddies, Lena from Frozen Wings and Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

For our next Bake-Along, we will be baking Brown Sugar-Raisin Bread, from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, pg 288 or here. Link your post to the our blog-hop linky which will start on 8th October right up to 17th October. Everyone is welcome! 


A friendly reminder when linking to our blog hop :
1. Please mention Bake-Along event in your own post linking direct to any of the hosts' post (JoyceLena or Zoe)
2. Please link only new and current post, related to the current bake or theme provided by us. Unrelated post will be deleted.
3. Feel free to display our Bake-Along badge in your post.

To join our blog hop, click on the link to get the codes :
get the InLinkz code

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Another one of The Pioneer Woman's pasta that I've made for dinner. When I was browsing thru The Pioneer Woman's website, there are a few pasta dishes that I've wanted to try, and this is one of them, especially so, when I saw EmilyLian and Phong Hong have made this and gave good reviews about this pasta dish. 

The Cajun spice that I used was actually Spicy Cajun Spice Mix, and instead of using chicken breasts which was cut into cubes and to be pan-fried until brown on all sides, I have used minced chicken instead, as that was what I had. 

The Spicy Cajun Spice Mix is not all that spicy, and for my own plate, I have sprinkled more chilli flakes over, yum! 

This pasta dish is delicious, the family likes it. The cream with the chicken stock makes a very tasty sauce. Another pasta favourite of the family!

(my changes in blue)
Cajun Chicken Pasta 
(adapted from "The Pioneer Woman")
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breats, cut into cubes (minced chicken)
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, more to taste
1 pound fettuccine (linguine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 whole green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 whole red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 whole large red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine (omit this, use all chicken broth)
1 cup heavy cream
cayenne pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste
chopped fresh parsley, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente, do not overcook.

Sprinkle 1-1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer, do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy.

Finally, add the chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!

I'm linking this to Cook Like A Star, featuring Ree Drummond as the star for this month, hosted by Zoe from Bake For Happy KidsBaby Sumo from Eat Your Heart Out and Mich from Piece of Cake.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Petite Vanilla Scones

There were two scones recipes from The Pioneer Woman's website that I have been wanting to try. I printed out the recipe for Rosemary and Lemon Scones and have even bought the Rosemary, somehow ended up making this Petite Vanilla Scones at the last minute. The basic recipe for these two scones are actually similar.

I made these Petite Vanilla Scones, and mine are not so petite! While Ree Drummond has used vanilla bean for the scones, I have used vanilla powder. And I have reduced the amount of sugar (refer to the recipe below). These scones are baked, cooled and then dunk into the vanilla icing glaze to coat the whole scones and left to set. 

I mixed the flour and butter, using the food processor. The crumbly dough is transferred to a bowl, mixed in the cream and egg using a fork just until it comes together, then placed on a floured work surface, pat and roll it out to a rectangular shape. The dough was very sticky and wet, I have to sprinkle lots of flour over, in order to roll it out. Since it was so sticky and soft, it was quite difficult to slice them and transfer the pieces to the baking tray. I've got to dust the pastry cutter with lots of flour for each cut, and more sprinkling of flour when transferring the pieces to the baking sheet, and was kinda worried, with all that additional flour.

Bake the scones for about 18 minutes, cool them on the pan for 15 minutes and transfer to the cooling rack to cool completely. Make the Vanilla Glaze by mixing milk, icing sugar, a pinch of salt and seeds from a vanilla bean. Once the scones are cool, dunk the scones in the Vanilla Glaze to fully coat each piece. I have only made a small amount of the Vanilla Glaze to coat about 6 pieces of the scones, leaving the rest without any glaze.

My Vanilla Icing Glaze is a bit thin, as I do not want it to be so sweet, and have used a lesser amount of icing sugar. For a thicker glaze, simply increase the icing sugar to the desired consistency.

While the scones are baking in the oven, the house smells so wonderful with the fragrance from the vanilla.

These scones are so delicious, especially so when still slightly warm, without any Vanilla Glaze. The texture is so tender and buttery, I ate three of these, without the glaze, while they are still warm. :)

The Vanilla Glaze is very nice and fragrant, delicious with scones. But then, since I am not a "sweet" person, I prefer eating the scones without any glaze, perfect with a cup of tea. According to Ree, the glaze that coats the scones, helps to keep them moist, but I've eaten the ones without the glaze, and they were still as tender and moist even after a few days. 

Petite Vanilla Scones
(adapted from "The Pioneer Woman")
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar (I use 1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp)
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit this)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, chilled (I use salted butter)
1 whole large egg
3/4 cups heavy cream (more if needed)
2 whole vanilla beans (I use 1/4 tsp vanilla powder)

Glaze :
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup whole milk, more if needed for thinning
1 whole vanilla bean
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla "caviar" inside. Stir caviar into cream. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going until mixture resembles crumbs.

Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture, stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until if forms a rough rectangle. (Mixture will be pretty crumbly). Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Use your hands to help with the forming if necessary.

Use a knife to trim into a symmetrical rectangle, then cut the rectangle into 12 symmetrical squares/rectangles. Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles.

Transfer to a parchment or baking mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, removing from the oven just before they start to turn golden. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Glaze :
To make the icing, split one vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar. Stir caviar into milk, allow to sit for awhile. Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the consistency the right thickness. Stir or whisk until completely smooth.

One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over if necessary. Transfer to parchment paper or the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set completely, about an hour. Scones will keep several days if glazed.

I'm linking this to Cook Like A Star, featuring Ree Drummond as the star for this month, hosted by Zoe from Bake For Happy KidsBaby Sumo from Eat Your Heart Out and Mich from Piece of Cake.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Baby Spinach Salad with Cranberries and Almonds : IHCC September Potluck

"September Potluck", is this week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), where we are a given a choice to select from any of our previous featured chefs recipes or the current chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. Since we have only two more weeks to go before we are starting with a new featured chef, I've decided to make one Ottolenghi's salad which I have bookmarked to try for ages.

A simple salad which takes just minutes to prepare. I have replaced the regular spinach with my own homegrown Malabar Spinach (Chan Choy) from my container garden, picked the young tender leaves, and this is actually the first time I'm using them in a salad, and I love it! I would usually wait for the leaves to grow bigger and used them for simple soups and stir-fries. Now that I have found a new of using the small, young tender leaves in a pasta dish (Chicken Florentine Pasta) and in this salad, am planning to grow more of these veggies!

Crispy tortillas and almonds.
These are so good, I could eat this alone as a snack! The tortilla are so crispy and yummy with the toasted almonds, seasoned with sumac, red pepper flakes and salt.

The other substitutes that I've made was to use tortilla wraps instead of pita, since I have some leftover wraps in my fridge. The original recipe uses dates, and I have replaced it with dried cranberries instead, my preferred choice. Tortilla wraps are roughly torn to pieces. A little butter and olive oil is heated and the torn pieces of tortilla wraps are added in together with the coarsely chopped almonds. These are cooked, stirring for about 5-6 minutes until the tortilla are crispy and the almonds toasted. Remove from heat and stir in the sumac, red pepper flakes and some salt to taste. Set aside to cool.

Dried cranberries, sliced onions are mixed with some white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt, and left to marinate for 20 minutes. Drain before tossing into the salad.

Just before serving, toss the tortilla and almonds mixture together with the spinach leaves. Add the cranberries and onion mixture, some olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of salt. Toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.

This salad is so delicious! All the ingredients blends so well together. Crispy delicious tortilla seasoned from the sumac spices, nutty crunchy almonds, crispy onions, sweet dried cranberries which has softened slightly from soaking with the white wine vinegar, fresh green Spinach, a hint of sourness from the lemon juice, and the wonderful spicy taste from the flaked chilies and of course Sumac, a beautiful spice which I'm just learning to use. I just can't seem to stop eating this salad, before I know it, the whole plate is clean! Haha! I will definitely make this again. Yum!

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds
(adapted from "Jerusalem", Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3-1/2 oz pitted Medjol dates, quartered lengthwise (replaced with a generous handful of dried cranberries)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small pitas, roughly torn in 1-1/2 in pieces (I replaced with tortilla wraps)
1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
5 oz baby spinach (homegrown Malabar Spinach)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put the vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt and toss mixing well. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes then drain and discard any of the residual vinegar, set aside. While this is marinating, heat the butter and half of the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the pita and almonds and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning until the pita is golden brown and the almonds are toasted. Remove from the heat and add the sumac, red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp of salt, tossing and set aside to cool. When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach and pita/almond mixture together in a large bowl. Add the dates, red onion, the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Toss again and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.

This post is linked to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), for the theme of this week "September Potluck". We are starting with a new featured chef, Donna Hay, starting from October. For more details about joining in, please click here.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Potato and Rosemary Bread

I'm nuts over cookbooks, I know most of you are too! Haha! When I was at BookXcess several months ago, could not help adding another bread making book to my collection, especially since it is quite cheap. :o)

I bought "Bread Revolution", and the first recipe that I've tried from this book is Potato and Rosemary Bread, one which I really like! It uses three of my favourite ingredients, potato, rosemary and garlic, which are so perfect for each other, and now pairs so well in a bread.

Russet potato, garlic and rosemary

Firstly you will need to roast the garlic still in their skins until the flesh is soft and tender. The potato is peeled, cut to chunks and boil till tender, then mashed. Do not throw away the water from the boiled potato, use it for the recipe, replacing the water. The rosemary are finely chopped. Refer to the instructions in the recipe below for the steps that follows.

This book is all about making the bread by hand. There's no instructions on using the stand mixer or the bread machine. The steps are really easy to follow, though for impatient me, I can get easily irritated with sticky dough sticking to my hands, but according to the two authors, be persistent and continue on. Wow, they knew! Haha! OK, I'm a good gal and followed their advice. :)

The dough is rather sticky, I guess, mostly due to the mashed potato, and I ended up using about an additional 1 cup of flour. Our hot and humid weather is not helping either, it does affect the water absorption of the flour. The next time I will reduce the water instead. Even though the recipe says to knead until the window-pane stage, I never did get to that stage, and figured that the dough would be fine after kneading for some time, about 20 minutes, and carry on with the next step as per the instructions in the recipe.

This recipe makes a very huge loaf, next time I'll divide the dough and make them into two smaller loaves instead. It has a lovely crust, somewhat soft when the bread is cool.

The bread texture is soft and very tasty. And it stays as soft the very next day too.

A lovely bread eaten with salted butter, and is so delicious with hot mushroom soup. This recipe is a keeper.

Potato & Rosemary Bread
(adapted from "Bread Revolution", Duncan Glendinning & Patrick Ryan)
Makes 1 large 800gm or 2lb loaf
1/2 bulb of garlic
200 gm (7 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
500 gm (1 lb 2 oz / 3-1/3 cups) strong white bread flour (I've used an additional 1 cup)
10 gm (2 tsp) fine sea salt (I use 1-1/4 tsp)
2 heaped tsp chopped rosemary leaves
10 gm (2 tsp) fresh yeast or 7 gm (1-1/2 tsp) dried or fast-action yeast
250 ml (9 fl oz / 1 cup) water (I use water from the boiled potatoes)
3 tsp rapeseed or olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4) and put the garlic, with its skin on, in a roasting dish. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soft. Squeeze out the flesh from three garlic cloves. You can give yourself a head start by doing this in advance and use the rest of the garlic as the perfect addition to soups and mashed potato.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and mash - or if you have some boiled potatoes or mash left over from last night's dinner, even better. (If the mash is creamy, hold back a little of the water when you mix it into the flour).
  3. Mix the flour with the salt, rosemary, garlic and potato in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crumble the yeast into the water and stir to dissolve. Pour the yeasted water and the oil into the well and bring together into a dough with your hands or with a spatula. At this point, things may get a little messy but be persistent and continue mixing. As the flour is incorporated the dough will start to take shape.
  4. Turn the dough out on to a clean kitchen surface and knead for 10 minutes or until you achieve the windowpane effect. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove for about 60-80 minutes or until doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out on to a clean surface and knock it back, then allow it to rest for about five minutes. Shape the dough into a loaf as desired, or pop it into a lightly oiled large loaf tin. Cover the loaf with a damp cloth and allow to prove again for 50-60 minutes. The loaf should double in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F/Gas 7) and put a roasting tray in the bottom. When ready to bake, place the loaf in the oven and steam by adding ice cubes or cold water to the tray. Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes, until golden and the base sounds hollow.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

THB : Peach-Cashew Coffee Cake

This week's bake at The Home Bakers (THB), is Peach-Cashew Coffee Cake, selected by Chaya of Bizzy Bakes.

The base is a butter cake topped with sliced peaches and toasted cashew nuts before baking. I have used canned peaches and did not toss them with lemon juice and nutmeg powder as stated in the recipe. And I have reduced the sugar to half. Cashew nut is an interesting ingredient which I seldom find in baking recipes. 

This cake can be baked in a tart pan or a springform pan, and I have used a 9-1/2 inch springform pan. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked.

A very nice cake, the texture of the cake is soft and tender, buttery and very moist, with the sliced peaches and the cashew nuts, makes this a perfect coffee cake.

For the full recipe, please visit Chaya of Bizzy Bakes and to view other members' bake, drop by The Home Bakers (THB).

Welcome to The Home Bakers

We are a group of home bakers who are currently baking from "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas, until each recipe from this book has been baked. This is our bake no. 24 and we have 36 recipes more to go. If you are interested to be a member and join in our bakes, you may drop me an email at


Monday, September 16, 2013

Chicken Florentine Pasta

Time for some pasta! I was looking thru some of The Pioneer Woman's pasta recipe and wanted to try almost all of them! Haha, Ok, one at a time! Decided to cook this since I have all the ingredients except the spinach which I substituted with a different kind of spinach.

I made this simple yet tasty pasta from The Pioneer Woman's recipe. Recipe uses a mixture of white wine and chicken stock. Since I do not have anymore white wine, I have used all chicken stock. I recently bought a carton of Organic Low Sodium Chicken Stock, from Cold Storage. This is the first time I'm using store-bought chicken stock, as I have been making my own all this while. It definitely saves a lot of time, as making chicken stock is actually time consuming besides using all the freezer storage space. And since chicken stock is not easily available in most supermarket, I bought 1 carton as soon as I've spotted it on the shelf, and looks like I'm going back for more on my next trip there, or depending on my mood with the next batch of homemade stock, whichever comes first! :)

This recipe uses Baby Spinach but I could not find any spinach, so I used my homegrown Malabar Spinach (chan choy) from my container garden. I picked the young tender leaves and they are great in the pasta! 
The young tender leaves can be used in salads as well, something that I would love to try!

A simple pasta dish that makes a lovely meal everyone enjoys. The only changes I did was to stir the cherry tomatoes and the chicken with the heat on instead of, with the heat off. Then I added in the Malabar Spinach, give it a quick stir and add in the pasta. Oops... I have forgotten about the Parmesan cheese! Did not use it at all, and even without it, this pasta dish is very tasty. And now I have a new recipe to use my Malabar Spinach from my container garden, and in other pasta dishes as well.

Chicken Florentine Pasta
(adapted from : The Pioneer Woman)
1 pound Penne
4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cups low-sodium broth, more if needed
1 bag baby spinach
2 cus grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 ounces, weight Parmesan Cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler

Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water. Drain and set aside.
Cut chicken breasts into chunks and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Heat butter and olive oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken chunks in a single layer and do not stir for a minute or two in order to allow the chicken to brown on the first side. Turn the chicken and brown on the other side. Cook until done, then remove chicken from the skillet.
Turn heat to medium. Add garlic and quickly stir to avoid burning. After about 30 seconds, pour in wine and broth, stirring to deglaze the pan. Allow the liquid to bubble up, then continue cooking until it's reduced by at least half (most of the surface of the liquid should be bubbling at this point).
Turn off the heat. Add spinach, tomatoes, chicken and cooked pasta to the skillet. Toss to combine ; the spinach will wilt as you toss everything. Add plenty of Parmesan shavings and toss to combine. Serve with extra Parmesan shavings.

I'm linking this to Cook Like A Star, featuring Ree Drummond as the star for this month, hosted by Zoe from Bake For Happy KidsBaby Sumo from Eat Your Heart Out and Mich from Piece of Cake.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

White Velvet Ombre Cake For A Birthday

A few days ago was my daughter's 15th Birthday. She requested for a purple ombre cake. I am hopeless when it comes to cake decoration, my piping skills are much to be desired! I have never decorated a whole cake, complete with piping before. My daughter says, "No matter how it turns out, I will still like the cake". There! Even she knows the limitation of my cake decoration skills! Haha!

 Purple Roses Ombre Cake.

View from the top

From the photo it looks like blue, but the colours are actually shades of purple!  An Ombre Cake is a cake with layers of different hues of the same colour and the frosting outside is of matching shades of the same colour. The darker colour would usually be at the bottom, getting lighter as it reaches the top. Though there is still room for improvement, I was quite happy with my first try!! :)

Happy Birthday to our daughter.
She was totally happy with the cake.

The cake is White Velvet Cake, which I coloured with tinge of purple. 

The three different shades of the same colour for the frosting.

The three different shades of the same colour for the cake layers.

For the cake, I have used White Velvet Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, pg 17 (serves 8 to 10) or you may get the recipe from Rose's website here (which serves 12). The changes I made was (based on the recipe serving for 12) :
~ to reduce the amount of sugar to 220gm instead of the original 300gm.
~ used salted butter, thus omitted the salt.
~ divide the batter into three equal amount, tinge one portion with some purple colouring, second portion with a lesser amount of the purple colouring and the third portion with even lesser amount of the purple colouring.
~ used 3 baking pans of 7" diameter and baked for 25 minutes.

For the buttercream : You can use any of your favourite buttercream recipe.
Here I have used as follows :
400 gm salted butter
3 to 3-1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp whipping cream
Beat butter and icing sugar for about 3-4 minutes. Add in vanilla extract and 1 tbsp whipping cream, and beat for another minute or two. Add more cream if buttercream is too thick, or add more icing sugar if it is too soft to pipe. Divide into three portions and tinge as per the cake layers above.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chocolate Cream Pound Cake : Bake-Along #51

Time for our Bake-Along #51, Chocolate Cream Pound Cake, chosen by my baking buddy, Lena from Frozen Wings.

A simple chocolate cake using some heavy cream as one of its ingredients. The heavy cream is heated up until just boiling and it is poured over the sifted cocoa powder to make a paste. Let it cool and use it for the cake batter as per the recipe below. The only changes I made was to reduce the amount of sugar by half! And the sweetness is just right. 

Overall, this is a simple and very nice cake, nothing exceptional, the kind of cake that is light enough and great for snacking anytime of the day. It has a moist, soft and tender texture and would go great with either tea, coffee or even a glass of milk. 

Chocolate Cream Pound Cake
(adapted from "Cake Keeper Cakes", Lauren Chattman)
Serves 8 to 10
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar (I use 3/4 cup)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan and dust with flour.
  2. Sift the cocoa powder through a fine strainer and into a heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a microwave-safe measuring cup and heat until just boiling, 30 seconds to 1 minute depending on the power of your microwave. Pour the hot cream over the cocoa and stir and mash with a spoon to make a thick paste. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Beat in the cocoa powder paste until smooth.
  5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After the last addition, mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack, and then turn it right side up on a rack to cool completely. Slice and seve.
  8. Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

To join our blog hop, bake this cake and link your post to our Bake-Along linky.
Please visit my baking buddies, Lena from Frozen Wings and Zoe from Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

For our next Bake-Along, we will be baking based on a theme where our theme is "Hokkaido Milk Bread". Bake any Hokkaido Milk Bread of your choice and link your post to the our blog-hop linky which will start on  25th September right up to 4th October. Everyone is welcome! 


A friendly reminder when linking to our blog hop :
1. Please mention Bake-Along event in your own post linking direct to any of the hosts' post (JoyceLena or Zoe)
2. Please link only new and current post, related to the current bake or theme provided by us. Unrelated post will be deleted.
3. Feel free to display our Bake-Along badge in your post.

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To join our blog hop, click on the link for the codes :
get the InLinkz code