Friday, May 30, 2014

Winter Leaves with Gherkins and Mustard

It's "Veg Out!", time for fresh veggies at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). We are currently cooking from our featured chef, Nigel Slater's recipes. For our fresh veggies week, I decided to go with really fresh! No cooking involved, just wash and dry the veggies, mix the dressing, toss and enjoy! 

This simple recipe is taken from Nigel Slater's book, The Kitchen Diaries II, pg 41, on January 22, as Winter Leaves with Gherkins and Mustard. According to Nigel "The crisp, winter leaves - trevise, radicchio, in fact all the chicories - have a beauty not present in the lush green leaves of summer" and further along on the next page he mentioned, "The dressing of winter salads are something I tend to introduce a touch of sweetness to, in the form of walnut oil or balsamic vinegar, as a knee-jerk contrast. Occasionally it is worth flying more dangerously and adding other pungent flavours - capers, gherkins, mustard and salty, palate-cleansing cheeses - to the leaves too. The shock of the bitter, the sour and the pungent, together with the crunch of the leaves, makes for refreshing, sense-awakening eating".

For the leaves, he says any bitter winter leaves will do, (white chicory, frisee or other crisp, bitter winter leaves) with a bunch of watercress. I have used frisee (a type of chicory), even though we do not have winter over here in Malaysia, frisee are available anytime of the year, as they are grown in the highlands, where the weather is much cooler. I like eating frisee in a salad, it is crispy, with a slight bitter taste to it. I have omitted the watercress since I could not find any. For the salad dressing, Nigel has used an egg yolk, but I do not like the idea of using uncooked eggs, so I have replaced the egg yolk with store-bought mayonnaise instead, which I know is not the same, but we love mayonnaise!

Nigel has used the food processor to mix the dressing. I took the lazy way out of using a bowl and a hand-whisk instead! Firstly I whisked the mayonnaise, grated Parmesan, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar till evenly combined,  then I add in the olive oil, using only about 3-4 tablespoons, whisking until the dressing is smooth and thin enough to fall slowly from a spoon. Gently stir in the chopped gherkins and drained capers.

Pickled gherkins and capers. My sister bought a large jar of pickled gherkins and it was too much for her, so she gave me half, and I've almost finished my half. Capers, one of my favourite ingredients in pasta and baked dishes. I always have a jar or two in my pantry. And I never rinsed my drained capers, even though most recipes call for this step. I simply love the salty taste of capers.

Toss the frisee with the dressing, and serve. Just like Nigel says, "The shock of the bitter, the sour and the pungent, together with the crunch of the leaves, makes for refreshing, sense-awakening eating". I like the way he describes this simple salad, and yes, it is good, even when I replaced the egg yolk with mayonnaise! The dressing is really nice. My daughter loves this salad, and so do I!

Winter Leaves with Gherkins and Mustard
(adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries II", Nigel Slater)
4 double handfuls of white chicory, frisee or other crisp, bitter winter leaves
a large bunch of watercress

For the dressing :
a large egg yolk (I use 2 heaped tablespoons mayonnaise)
50gm Parmesan, finely grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
100ml mild olive oil
2 tablespoons, finely chopped gherkins
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed

To make the dressing, put the egg yolk into a food processor, add the grated Parmesan, mustard and wine vinegar and switch the machine on. Pour in the oil rather slowly, as if you were making mayonnaise. Stop adding it when you have a smooth sauce that is thin enough to fall slowly from a spoon. Stir in the chopped gherkins and rinsed capers. Add no salt.
(I did not use the food processor. I used the hanb-whisk to whisk the mayonnaise, Parmesan, mustard and wine vinegar together in a medium bowl till evenly combined. Add the olive oil, whisk to combine, then stir in the chopped gherkins and capers).

Rinse and trim the salad leaves, removing any tough stalks from the watercress. Spin or shake dry. Gently toss the leaves in the dressing and pile on to plates.
Enough for 4.


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC)

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Homemade : Dulce de Leche (two ways)

Today, I'm sharing on how to make Homemade Dulce de Leche, two ways. Most of you would already know how Dulce de Leche is made, and would have probably made them before. I have not seen Dulce de Leche being sold anywhere here in the area where I live, maybe I could probably get it from Cold Storage or The Grocer, but since I'm not going to these places anytime soon, and not even sure if I can find it, I decided to make them instead.

Dulce de Leche is a sauce or syrup, similar in taste to caramel, but is made by heating sweetened condensed milk until it turns gloriously brown, the colour of caramel. It is a common ingredient used in South American countries. The Mexican use goat's milk to make Dulce de Leche, and one of these days, I would try to get some, just to compare on the difference in taste.

There are various ways of making Dulce de Leche. The most common method is to use a can of condensed milk and boil it for about 2 hours, fully submerged in boiling water at all times. I have read that there is a risk in using this method, due to the heat, the can may bulge, and there is a danger of it exploding. (Imagine the clean-up that you have to do, if that happens!) Some suggests to make two tiny holes (at opposites sides of each other) at the top of the can, then place it in a pot of water, upright position, filling the pot with hot water to about 1" from the top of the can, letting it boil for 2 hours. Which method should I use? Neither, as I further read that it is not a good idea to even use the can method as the cans are not meant to be used in high temperature conditions, since they are not manufactured for such use, and it would not be recommended for health reasons. Both methods have been used by many, so it is up to your personal preference and judgement. 

I'm sharing two ways of making Dulce de Leche, the first one by making it all from scratch, without any condensed milk, but with regular full cream milk. The second is by using canned condensed milk. Let us start with the first method first :

The first method :

  1. You will need four ingredients ; a liter of full cream milk, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 vanilla pod.  Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, and keep aside.
  2. Combine the milk and sugar in a heavy pot, with tall sides. 
  3. Split the vanilla beans, scrape the seeds into the milk mixture along with the pods.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has fully dissolved.
  5. Remove the pot from heat, add in the baking soda and water solution, stirring vigorously. Mixture will bubble up immediately. Stir until the mixture settles down. Return the pot to the heat and bring to a brisk simmer. 
  6. Simmer for an hour, or until it turns golden brown, you need not stir it all the time. I stirred the mixture now and then, about 15-20 minutes in between or so.
  7. When the mixture has turned a dark golden brown, check on it frequently. Decide how thick or dense you want your Dulce de Leche to be. Let it simmer longer for a thicker set. 
  8. Remove from heat, strain into a glass container or jar, let cool, seal and store in refrigerator.

From 1 liter of milk, the yield is only about 1 cup of Dulce de Leche.

I made mine into a pourable sauce consistency, the colour is really dark, and it took me about 1 hour 40 minutes for the whole process. Taste is really good, with sort of like a "butterscotch flavour".

The second method :

  1. You will need : 1 can of condensed milk, some sea salt. Open up the can of condensed milk and pour it into a 8" baking dish (I used a Pyrex dish). Sprinkle with some sea salt over the top.
  2. Cover the dish with a piece of large foil, tucking in the ends snugly. Place the dish in a roasting tray, filling it with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake in the oven at 425F (220C) for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, checking the roasting tray a few times, and adding more hot water if necessary. (I baked mine for 1-1/2 hours, and adding on the hot water, once).
  3. Once the colour of the milk has become the colour of dark butterscotch, remove it from the oven. Remove the foil and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour in an air-tight jar, and store in refrigerator.

Gloriously creamy and thick, since condensed milk is used. 

My notes and comparison :
Taste :
Method One 
Between these two methods, I prefer the first method. Making the Dulce de Leche from scratch using full cream milk and sugar, simmering it to the point until it takes on the colour of dark caramel, makes it tastes so similar to a butterscotch flavour. I made mine into a pouring consistency, it is not as creamy, and  as rich as when using the canned condensed milk, but the taste makes up for it, and it is not as sweet as the condensed milk version. This is especially good drizzled over pancakes and crepes. For a thicker set to spread over bread and toasts, simmer it longer until it reached your desired thickness.
Method Two
Using the canned condensed milk, the texture is very creamy and thick, as condensed milk is already creamy and thick! Tastewise, it is extremely sweet. This would be great for baking and making ice creams, and I have been enjoying some of it in my morning coffee.

Texture :
Method One
You've got to keep track of the consistency you want, once it has reached the colour of deep golden brown. To make it really thick, more cooking time is needed with constant monitoring.
Method Two
The advantage of using canned condensed milk is you do not have to actually keep close track of the creamy consistency, as it is already thick to begin with.

Ease of Making :
Method One
Even though the mixture is left to simmer without the need for constant stirring, it makes clean up a little messier, but bearable! Easy to do, but need monitoring towards the end to keep track of the colour and thickness you want.
Method Two
Really easy method. Just leave it in the oven without disturbing it at all. The only work is, to check on the water level in the roasting pan at halftime and add more if necessary. This is definitely the easier method between these two.

For a pouring consistency, I would go with the first method. And for a thicker and creamier one, definitely the second method. It all depends what you are using the Dulce de Leche for. I'm sure you'll find something to use it for, with either methods of making. 

Remarks - Recipe Source :
The above recipes was sourced from various websites in the internet. Most of them have used the same amount of ingredients and the same method of preparation. I'm listing two of the sources here for reference
The Kitchn (making Dulce de Leche from full cream milk)
David Lebovitz (making Dulce de Leche using canned condensed milk, also can be found in "The Perfect Scoop" pg 171)


I am linking this post to Little Thumbs Up event, ingredient for this month is Milk, organised by Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, Doreen of My Favourite D.I.Y., hosted by Tze of Awayofmind Bakery House.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Kerala Ka Bhuna Gosht (Kerala-Style Bhuna Pork)

I've got to have my curry fix now and then! Haha! If you are familiar with my blog, you would know how much I love curry, especially pork curry! I am always on a lookout for pork curry recipes, the only thing that is keeping me from cooking it every so often is, it is so "dangerous", cause I would always have second helpings with rice whenever pork curry is on the dinner table! 

I was reading thru my recipe list on my blog, and realized that I have 8 other Indian style pork curries that I've tried, and here they are (click on the name of the dish for the full post) :

Kerala-style Bhuna Pork. Madhur Jaffrey' got this recipe from a cook who comes from Kerala in south-western India. This dish may be also cooked with beef or lamb. All these meats are eaten by the different religious groups in Kerala. It is the only state where the sale of beef is perfectly legal. This dish may be served with rice or flatbreads.

The toasted spices : cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried hot red chillies, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds. Toast for a minute or two, stirring constantly over medium heat and as soon as they start to change a shade darker, quickly empty them out to a plate or a piece of kitchen paper towel. Leave till completely cool. Placing them on kitchen paper towel will make it easier to transfer them to the spice grinder.

Grind the toasted spices to a powder

Once you have toasted and grind the spices, it is easy to cook this dish. This is a delicious pork curry dish, that is really nice eaten with white rice. I cook about 1kg of pork meat, and have increased the amount of spices and other ingredients by half, as we love having some extra gravy for our rice. 

Kerala-Style "Bhuna" Pork
(adapted from "100 Essential Curries" Madhur Jaffrey)
Serves 4-6
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
4 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
2-4 whole dried hot red chillies
2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
2 teaspoons whole fenugreek seeds

corn oil or peanut oil
3 large shallots, about 150gm (5oz)
4cm (1-1/2in) piece fresh ginger
5-6 garlic cloves
10-15 fresh curry leaves, if available
2 medium tomatoes
900gm (2lb) boneless lamb, pork shoulder or stewing veal or beef, cut into 3cm (1-1/4in) pieces

Step One :
Set a small or medium-sized cast-iron frying pan on a medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, chillies, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds. Stir them around until they are a shade darker. Quickly empty them out and let them cool slightly. Now put them in a clean coffee grinder or other spice grinder and grind to a powder.

Step Two :
Peel and finely chop the shallots, ginger and garlic. Peel and chop the tomatoes. Pour 5 tablespoons oil into a wide, preferably non-stick, lidded pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Fry, stirring at the same time, for 4-5 minutes until they turn a golden brown. Add the curry leaves and tomatoes. Cook, again stirring, until the tomatoes are reduced to a thick paste. Add the ground roasted spices. Stir into the paste and cook for a minute. Add the meat and 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add 250ml (8fl oz) water and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly with the lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for about 80 minutes or until the meat is tender. (Beef will take about 1-1/2 hours). Remove the lid, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce is reduced to the point where it clings to the meat.

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC)

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I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest - Indian Subcontinent hosted by Chef and Sommelier

Friday, May 23, 2014

Purple Sweet Potato Bread

These pull-apart rolls are so fluffy soft, the kinda bread that most Asians prefer. This bread uses a pre-ferment starter ;  that is left to ferment for 17 hours in the refrigerator. The pre-ferment dough is added to the rest of the ingredients the next day to knead into a dough, following the usual process of making a bread. It may sound like a long process, but kneading the dough for the pre-ferment takes only about 10 minutes, when using the stand mixer. The kneaded dough is then placed in a bowl, cover with cling wrap and left in the refrigerator for a minimum of 17 hours. I left mine for about 19-20 hours. The dough will rise only about 20-30%, and is used cold, directly from the fridge.

Purple sweet potato gives a beautiful, attractive colour to the bread. The sweet potatoes are first steamed, peeled and mashed. Some of it, is used in the dough, and the balance as a filling for the buns. For the filling, I've left the sweet potatoes a little chunky with bits of pieces still visible. I've used Japanese sweet potatoes, purple and white variety.The recipe did not mention about the total amount of uncooked sweet potatoes needed, I find that I did not have enough of the purple sweet potatoes and mix with some white ones. I've reserved the purple ones for the dough and for the filling, a mixture of purple and white. These sweet potatoes are really sweet, and there's really no need for any sugar at all for the filling. You would need about 1.2kg (unpeeled weight) of sweet potatoes in total. Any extras, is great for snacking, really sweet.

Purple Sweet Potato Bread

The author uses chiffon cake pan to bake the bread, and did not specify the size of the pan. Guessing that a 20cm pan would be suitable, I've used that. Since I have only one, I have used another 20cm (8") round cake pan to bake the other half of the dough. The ones in the chiffon pan has the purple sweet potato as the filling.

I've left the other half of the dough plain, with no filling.
These two pans are baked in a preheated oven at 175C for 40 minutes.

The ones with the sweet potato filling. Really nice.

The plain bun. I like the lovely colour of the purple sweet potatoes. The buns are really fluffy soft, so good. They are good eaten on its own with a cup of hot coffee. Makes a very nice breakfast and tea-time snack.

(note :  my changes in blue)
Purple Sweet Potato Bread
(adapted from "Natural Breads Made Easy", Kin Chan)
Pre-ferment dough :
377gm bread flour
216gm water
11gm fresh yeast (I use 4gm instant yeast)
5gm sea salt
11gm skim milk powder

Dissolve the yeast in water. Add bread flour, sea salt, skim milk powder and knead until soft. Cover the dough in cling wrap. Refrigerate to let it prove for 17 hours.
(I mixed the instant yeast with all the ingredients)

The dough :
162gm bread flour
16gm skim milk powder
5gm sea salt (omit salt as I've used salted butter)
65gm sugar
135gm water
5gm fresh yeast (I use 2gm instant yeast)
43gm unsalted butter (use salted butter)
269gm mashed purple sweet potato

For the filling :
mashed purple sweet potato

Preparation :
Cut the pre-ferment dough into small pieces.
Steam the purple sweet potato with skin on. Peel and mash it. Save some for filling.
(You will need about 1.2 kg of purple sweet potato, unpeeled)

  1. Knead all ingredients of dough together (except the butter). Add pre-ferment dough piece by piece. Knead after each addition until soft and smooth. Add butter. Knead until stretchable consistency. (I used the stand mixer to knead the dough, speed 2 for about 10 minutes, after adding the butter).
  2. Put the dough into a big bowl. Cover with a cling wrap. Let it prove for about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into sixteen small equal portions and round them. Set aside to rest for about 20 minutes. (dough is a little sticky, dust with a light sprinkling of flour).
  4. Flatten each piece of dough with your hands to release air. Round them again. Press flat. Stuff them with mashed sweet potato. Make into rounds again. Place eight pieces of dough into one mould. Cover with cling wrap. (though the book did not mention the size of the pan, but the bread was baked in 2 chiffon cake pans. I used one 20cm (8") chiffon cake pan and one 20cm (8") round cake pan, which work out fine).
  5. Let it prove for about 45 minutes or until the dough has risen to 80% of the depth of the mould. Brush the top with egg wash. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170-180C for about 30-35 minutes.

  • Once the breads are done baking, remove from the pans immediately and let cool on wire rack.
  • The author recommends if using instant yeast, use only one third of the amount of fresh yeast listed in the recipe.


I am linking this post to Little Thumbs Up event, ingredient for this month is Milk, organised by Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, Doreen of My Favourite D.I.Y., hosted by Tze of Awayofmind Bakery House.


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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Baked Butter Rice and Chicken with Peas

"May Potluck", it's potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I've made two dishes from Tessa Kiros's recipes, and one from Nigel Slater. Well, actually, this meal was made a few weeks ago, when I made Nigel Slater's, Spiced Roast Potatoes with Yoghurt and Mint.  I've also made Tessa Kiros's, Baked Butter Rice and another dish, Chicken with Peas, and served with Nigel's potato dish.

Our dinner

Baked Butter Rice

According to Tessa "This can be dressed up or down as much as you like, but I love this stress-free baked rice. You can put it in the oven and go out for a walk, unlike the more usual stovetop rice that needs a touch more vigilance. It's lovely with anything that calls for white; chicken with peas, cozido, grilled chicken, tomato chilli prawns and so on. You can easily add some extra bits to take on the flavour of the meal - some fresh coriander chopped in at the end, chilli or whatever".

Just like Tessa says, this rice is really easy to cook, once the ingredients are sauteed and bring to boil, cover the pot and bake the rice in the oven for 40-45 minutes, and by then, you would have lovely, fragrant fluffy rice. I have however used Basmati rice, which works out great. And have followed Tessa's suggestion to serve with one of the dishes she mentioned above (all of which can be found in her lovely book), Chicken with Peas. But then, this rice is great served with just any dish. I would definitely cook this Baked Butter Rice again, and would add on some chopped corianders, or parlsey, to take on on the flavour of the meal, as advised by Tessa.

Chicken with Peas

According to Tessa, "This is an easy, one-pot dish that you can make beforehand, turn off the heat and serve when you're ready. I chop the onion, celery and carrot roughly in a mixer, but not too small please. This is lovely with baked butter rice, or plain boiled potatoes".

This is a tasty dish, but mine is a little oily towards the end of cooking time. The chourizo and bacon did release some oil during sauteing. This is a tasty dish. I can actually taste both the chourizo and the bacon in the chicken meat. The chicken thighs really soaked up the flavours from both the chourizo and the bacon. I have used only half the amount of peas, as my kids are not really keen on peas. The family did enjoy this chicken dish.

My potluck meal, Spiced Roast Potatoes with Yoghurt and Mint (Nigel Slater), Baked Butter Rice and Chicken with Peas

Baked Butter Rice
(adapted from "Piri Piri Starfish....Portugal Found", Tessa Kiros)
serves 4-6
50gm (1-3/4 oz butter)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 dried bay leaves
250gm (1-1/2 cups) parboiled variety of rice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pinches of paprika
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4).
Heat the butter and oil in a flameproof casserole. (Tessa uses her cast-iron one) and saute the onion with the bay leaves until softened and sticky. Add the rice, garlic and paprika and stir the rice well so it soaks up all the flavours.
Add the stock and season, if necessary. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and put in the oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Take out of the oven and leave for a few minutes before fluffing with a fork to serve.
(I used 2 cups of basmati rice, washed, soak in water for 20 minutes, drain and cook, as above, using 3-1/2 cups of homemade chicken stock)

Chicken with Peas
(adapted from "Piri Piri Starfish...Portugal Found", Tessa Kiros)
Serves 4-6
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
30gm (1oz) chourizo sausage, thinly sliced
60gm (2oz) unsmoked bacon or pancetta in one thickish slice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 chicken, skinned and cut up into 10-12 pieces
250ml (1 cup) white wine
3 tablespoons roughly chopped tinned tomatoes (or 1 large very ripe tomato, peeled and chopped)
600gm (1lb 5oz) peas, fresh or thawed frozen

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the onion, celery, carrot and bay leaves and saute until the onion is golden. Add the chourico and bacon and cook for a bit longer. Add the parsley and chicken and saute for a good few minutes until the chicken too is golden. Turn now and then so that nothing sticks and burns. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the wine and let it bubble up for a minute or two, then stir in the tomato. Tip out into a large heavy casserole dish (because later on the peas won't all fit in the frying pan), cover and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
Take the lid off, add the peas, turn up the heat a bit and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the peas are just tender and still green. There will still be some liquid in the dish.
Taste for seasoning, turn off the heat and leave uncovered (the peas will still be absorbing some of the liquid) until you serve, with bread, potatoes, rice or whatever you like.

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC)


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Monday, May 19, 2014

Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake : Bake-Along #61

It's time for Bake-Along #61. Firstly I would like to thank each and everyone who has submitted your chocolate bakes for Bake-Along's 3rd Anniversary. It was delicious seeing all the different chocolate bakes. Thank you for celebrating together with Lena, Zoe and myself, and hope that you would continue to bake together with us!

For today's bake, it's my turn to select, and my selection is "Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake" which is actually a sweet bread. I have been eyeing this recipe ever since I got the book "Baking For All Ocassions" by Flo Braker more than a year ago. I like the way the bread is baked by lining up layers of dough in the loaf pan which was stacked and sliced to begin with, and with citrus-sugar mixture in between, 
The dough is left to rise, baked, cool slightly and brush the top with cream cheese-lemon icing. Eat while still warm, so good!

 Not a pretty sight! This pull-apart bread is just so messy to eat, yet I do not mind getting my fingers sticky! It is simply yummy!

This photo shows the 5 layers of dough strips which have been stacked on top of one another and then sliced through to make 6 equal strips. The step-by-step photos before this step, are missing from my camera! Sorry about that. But by reading the detailed instructions in the recipe below, you would know how these strips are formed.

Note : I've reduced the sugar for the dough, the filling and the cream cheese icing. My changes are listed in blue in the recipe below.

Place the strips with cut side facing up, in the prepared loaf pan, and just like the recipe stated, there will be space on both sides of the strips widthwise, while it is slightly tight lengthwise. The spaces will be filled up later, while the bread is baking.

Leave the strips to rise until almost doubled in size, and then bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 35 minutes.

Spread the warm bread with the cream-cheese icing. You may either pull-apart the loaf to serve or cut it to thin slices.

This is one delicious bread. The texture is really soft and moist. And the cream cheese icing is just so wonderful with the bread. I can taste both the orange and lemon, in the bread itself and the cream-cheese icing is so lemony good, which I've added more lemon juice, just because! I'm glad I've reduced the sugar slightly, as it turns out quite sweet as well, but good! This bread stays just as soft on the next day!

The instructions in the recipe may sound and look complicated, but it really is easy to follow. Bake this bread  (your family will love you for it!) and join us in our Bake-Along. 

(my changes in blue)
Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake
(adapted from "Baking For All Occasions", Flo Braker)
Sweet Yeast Dough
About 2-3/4 cups (12-1/4 ounces/350 grams) all-purpose flour (I used bread flour)
1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces/50 grams) granulated sugar (1/8 cup)
2-1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2-1/2 fl ounces/75ml) whole milk
2 ounces (1/2 stick/55 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fl ounces/60ml water)
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lemon Paste Filling
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces/100 grams) granulated sugar (1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces (1/2 sticks/55 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing
3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (1-1/4 ounces/35 grams) powdered sugar (1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (2-3 tablespoons)

To make the Sweet Yeast Dough :
Stir together 2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) of the flour, the sugar, the yeast, and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat just until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, add the water, and set aside until warm (120 to 130 degrees F), about 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Attach the bowl to the mixer; and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stop the mixer, add 1/2 cup (2-1/4 ounces/65 grams) of the remaining flour, and resume mixing on low speed until the dough is smooth, 30 to 45 seconds. Add 2 more tablespoons flour and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft and slightly sticky, about 45 seconds.

Sprinkle a work surface with 1 tablespoon flour and center the dough on the flour. Knead gently until smooth and no longer sticky, about 1 minute, adding an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons flour only if necessary to lessen the stickiness. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place (about 70 degrees F) until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step. While the dough is rising, make the filling.

To Make The Lemon Paste Filling :
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and the lemon and orange zests. Set the sandy-wet mixture nearby (the sugar draws out moisture from the zests to create the consistency).

Before Baking :
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. Or, lightly coat the pan with nonstick spray.

To Shape The Coffee Cake :
Gently deflate the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter generously over the dough. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips, each about 12 by 4 inches. (A pizza cutter is helpful here.) Sprinkle 1-1/2 tablespoons of the zest-sugar mixture over one of the buttered rectangles. Top with a second rectangle and sprinkle it with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the zest-sugar mixture. Repeat with the remaining dough rectangles and zest-sugar mixture, ending with a stack of 5 rectangles. Work carefully when adding the crumbly zest filling, or it will fall off when you have to lift the stacked pastry later.

Slice the stack crosswise through the 5 layers to create 6 equal strips, each about 4 by 2 inches. Fit these layered strips into the prepared loaf pan, cut edges up and side by side. (While there is plenty of space on either side of the 6 strips widthwise in the pan, fitting the strips lengthwise is tight. But that's fine because the spaces between the dough and the sides of the pan fill in during baking). Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place, (70 degrees F) until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes. Press the dough gently with a fingertip. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for baking.

Bake the coffee cake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. (After baking for about 25 minutes, I tent the top with foil as the top was already brown, and continue to bake for another 10 minutes until bread is done).

While the coffee cake bakes, make the Tangy Cream Cheese Icing :
In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, vigorously mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk and lemon juice until the mixture is creamy and smooth.

To remove the coffee cake from the pan, tilt and rotate the pan while gently tapping it on a counter to release the cake sides. Invert a wire rack on top of the coffee cake, invert the cake onto the rack, and carefully lift off the pan. Invert another rack on top, invert the cake so it is right side up, and remove the original rack. Slip a sheet of waxed paper under the rack to catch any drips from the icing. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the warm cake with the icing to glaze it. (Cover and refrigerate the leftover icing for another use. It will keep for up to 2 days).

Serve the coffee cake warm or at room temperature. To serve, you can pull apart the layers, or you can cut the cake into 1-inch-thick slices on a slight diagonal with a long, serrated knife. If you decide to cut the cake, don't attempt to cut it until it is almost completely cool.


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, our bake is "Theme : Savoury Pie/Tart"Bake any savoury pie or tart of your choice and join us! The linky will start on 5th June until 14th June. 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, PLEASE FOLLOW THE BAKE OR THEME provided by us. Unrelated post will be deleted.
3. Feel free to display our Bake-Along badge in your post.

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

Parsley Risotto with Parmesan Crisps

"A Little Cheese, Please"! Everyone at I Heart Cook Clubs (IHCC) is getting cheesy this week, with cheese as the theme for this week's dish. This is the second recipe with cheese that I've made with Nigel Slater's recipe this week. The first one is Cheese, Ham and Apple Muffins, from The Kitchen Diaries II, pg 222, but unfortunately, all my photos are missing from my camera, and this is not the first time it happens! Obviously I need a new camera. So with no photos to show, time for Plan B, that is to make another recipe , as I do not want to skip this week's theme, any week for that matter, not if I can help it. 

I decided to try at cooking risotto, something I have never attempted before. Nigel Slater has this interesting risotto recipe that is served with a piece of Parmesan crisp. Sounds good to me. The recipe is for 4 servings, and since I'm having this alone, I've made a quarter of a recipe for one, and use about 85 gm of arborio rice. I've used my own homemade chicken stock and used in total about 1-1/2 cups. Nigel's brilliant idea of crashing the stalks of the parsley leaves with the side of a knife and adding them to the boiling stock makes the stock really parsley-fragrant.

To cook the risotto (with a low heat), firstly, some chopped shallots is sauteed in a little butter, add the rice, and stir till the rice is glossy, then add in some white wine (I've used about 2 tbsps). Stir for a minute or two, add in a ladle of the hot stock, stirring until the rice has absorbed the stock, and add on another ladle of stock, repeat until the rice is cooked and creamy. Final step is to add in the chopped parsley leaves, and some butter and grated parmesan, stir to combine. I have omitted the butter and did not add anymore salt, as it does not need it. 

For the Parmesan crisp, place a heaped tablespoon of grated Parmesan in a medium hot saucepan, press down the cheese with the back of a spoon and let it cook for a minute or two until the cheese melts and the bottom is light brown. Flip it over and cook the other side for a minute or two. Remove and let cool slightly, it will crisp up as it cools. Place the Parmesan crisp over the risotto and serve.

Notes :  Is this dish good? Yes, it is! Really tasty, and I like the fragrance from the parsley both in the stock and from the bits of chopped leaves added in towards the end. The Parmesan Crisp is a nice addition, and cooking the Parmesan Crisp is a fun process!

Parsley Risotto with Parmesan Crisps
(adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries II", Nigel Slater)
50gm flat-leaf parsley
a litre hot stock (chicken, turkey, vegetable)
a shallot or very small onion
a thick slice of butter
300gm Arborio rice
a small glass of white wine or vermouth

To finish :
butter and grated Parmesan

For the Parmesan Crisps :
4 heaped tablespoons finely grated Parmesan 

Prepare the parsley :
Pull the leaves from their stems, crack the stems with the back of a knife - their mineral scent is worth inhaling - then put them in a pan with the stock and bring to the boil. As the stock boils, turn the heat down to a low simmer. Finely chop the parsley leaves.
Peel and very finely chop the shallot and let it cook in the butter in a saucepan, without taking on any colour. Add the rice, turn the grains briefly in the butter till glossy, then pour in the wine and let it cook for a minute or two. Add a ladle of the stock. Stirring almost constantly, add another ladle of stock and continue to stir until the rice has soaked it all up. Now add the remaining stock, a ladle at a time, stirring pretty much all the time till the rice has soaked up the stock, the grains are plump and the texture creamy.
Stir in the chopped parsley, a thick slice of butter and a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan. Season carefully.
For the Parmesan crisps, simply put heaped tablespoons of the grated Parmesan into a warm, non-stick frying pan. Press the cheese down flat with a palette knife and leave to melt. As soon as it has melted, turn once and continue cooking for a minute or so. Lift off with the palette knife and cool briefly. They will probably crisp up in seconds. Place on top of the risotto and serve.
Enough for 4.

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC)

Grab button for IHCC


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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SoNo Brownies

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter's friend came over to our house, to spend the afternoon with her. I made a simple lunch, but there's nothing to snack on later! With three teenagers in the house, I thought of baking, definitely something with chocolate, and brownies came to mind, as brownies are really easy and quick to put together, and do not take that long to bake. A quick browse thru my cookbook collection, and found this delicious recipe from "The Sono Baking Company Cookbook" by John Barricelli, a lovely book indeed.

These brownies are really quick and easy to make. Firstly, mix all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Then melt the butter in a saucepan, add in the sugar and corn syrup, then the eggs and the vanilla, whisking to combine after each addition.  Add in the dry ingredients, fold until the flours have been incorporated, then fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

These brownies are so good! Very moist, soft, tender, and chocolaty good! A hit with the kids! And a request to make this again. :)

SoNo Brownies
(adapted from "The Sono Baking Company Cookbook", John Barricelli)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (scant 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, or brush generously with softened butter; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the sugar and corn syrup and whisk to combine. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, whisking until well blended after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and fold until the flour has been incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then cut into 2-inch squares.

I'm linking this post to :

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Monday, May 12, 2014

THB : Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake

This week at The Home Bakers (THB), Mich from Piece of Cake has selected Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake, as our bake #35. A simple coffee cake, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, simple but yet so good!

One half of the streusel topping, with pecans, while the other half with chocolate chips.

I've made only half a recipe and have made a few changes, as usual, I have reduced the sugar for both the streusel topping and the cake batter, which I have reduced by half. I have used 1/8 cup sugar each  for both the cake batter and the streusel topping (from original amount of 1/4 cup for half a recipe). I almost cannot believe that the butter used is only 30 grams (1/4 stick) for half a recipe. And I have made the streusel topping into two different flavours, one half is mixed with pecan as per the original recipe, and the other half is with chocolate chips, since my daughter do not like nuts in her cakes. I baked the cake in a 6-1/2" loose-bottomed cake pan, and it bakes up quite tall.

The cake is moist, soft with tender crumbs. The yoghurt must have contributed to the moist texture, as the butter is really very little (30 grams). Both the different streusel topping, pecans and the chocolate chips are delicious with cake. This makes a very nice coffee cake indeed. 


For the full recipe and instructions, please visit the host of this bake, Mich of Piece of Cake. To view other members' bake, please visit 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. This is our bake no. 35 and we have 25 recipes more to go. If you are interested to be a member and join in our bakes, you may drop me an email at

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ham and Cheddar Muffins

These savoury muffins are just so delicious. There's no butter or oil used at all for these muffins. The grated cheddar cheese which is mixed into the batter makes the muffins really moist and tender. I made this for tea-time on the weekend, and my only regret is to make half a recipe.

I did make some substitutions for some of the ingredients. Recipe calls for chopped ham, and did not have any, but I do have leftover luncheon meat, and that was what I used. And I have replaced the buttermilk with regular milk. I have added some chopped chives, about 2 tbsps, since I have some chives in my garden pot. 

Really easy, mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, the dry ingredients in another, and combine them together just until blended, taking care not to overmix. Reserve some cheddar cheese to scatter over the batter before baking. 

Using standard muffin pans, I got only 7 muffins instead of 9 for half a recipe.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. These muffins did not rise really high as some muffins do, but they are really moist, soft and tender.

Really delicious!

These would be perfect for a breakfast treat, even for lunch with some veggie salad to munch on. And if you are having it for tea-time, make sure you have your favourite cup of warm tea ready! 

note : my measurements in blue for half a recipe
Ham and Cheddar Muffins
(adapted from "750 Best Muffin Recipes", Camilla V. Saulsbury)
Makes 18 muffins (I got 7 muffins for half a recipe)
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (1/2 cup + 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp)
1 tsp ground cumin (1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp salt (omitted)
2 cups shredded sharp (old) Cheddar cheese, divided (1 cup)
2 eggs (1)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (1/2 tbsp)
1 cup buttermilk (replaced with 1/2 cup milk)
2 cups diced cooked ham (replaced with 1 cup diced luncheon meat)
2 tbsps chopped chives (my addition)

Preheat oven to 375F (190C)
Two 12-cup muffin pans, 18 cups greased
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cumin, baking soda and salt. Stir in 1-1/2 cups (375ml) of the cheese and chives (if using).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and mustard until well blended. Whisk in  buttermilk until blended.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Gently fold in ham.
  4. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack. Serve warm or let cool completely.

I am linking this post to Little Thumbs Up event, ingredient for this month is Milk, organised by Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, Doreen of My Favourite D.I.Y., hosted by Tze of Awayofmind Bakery House.


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