Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Passionfruit Souffles

I have never eaten a souffle and i'm very eager to try one. I remember the first time i read about  preparing souffle was thru Tze's blog and she too making it for the first time, sounds very challenging making one i thought, quite intimidating too. I 'forced' Joyce and Zoe to make souffles with me, thinking that i could at least have some feedback what is it actually like. Souffles is the theme for our bake along this week. According to wikipedia, it says that a souffle is a lightly baked cake made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites, combined with other ingredients served as a savoury main dish or sweetened as a dessert. It basically made up of 2 components that is the base for flavour and the egg whites that provide the lift. It should puffed up and fluffy when it comes out of the oven and then fall after 5-10 mins. Wow, 10 minutes!

If you read the instructions on how to make a souffle, it doesnt really sound that difficult and yet it's so difficult..My first 2 attempts failed using the same one recipe. I made a coffee sounds nice to me, it doesnt come with egg yolks and the directions seem pretty simple, very straight forward. Very nice it was puffing in the oven, i was smiling..took it out from the oven and i was still smiling.. slowly it came down..ok, that's quite normal. Photo captured, done and when i digged in with a spoon, oh dear, it it cooked? is it supposed to look like this?? looks not cooked thru and when i tasted it, seems raw and tasted awful. I just got to throw them away. Next day i did it again with a higher temperature and even worse, the souffle already deflated before the time was up, also raw.

first and second attempts..noticed the 'thorns'..that's becos i didnt level the surface after  pouring the batter into the ramekins.
wet center , uncooked, tasted raw..failed!

I then watsapps Zoe to clear my doubts and after that, decided to change to another recipe and flavour. Passionfruit this time cos i have a few at home. Honestly, i was already feeling very daunted making it the 3rd time and i find myself reading tips on how to make a success souffle. To cut the story, it puffed up very nice in the oven but this time, i didnt smile..i was just waiting anxiously.. Took it out from the oven and very quickly it started to fall..i think the puff only survived for mere 10 seconds. Time to crack my souffle, i let out a sigh of relief, though it looks a little wet but i know it's cooked when i tasted it. Light and fluffy, like eating clouds..the passionfruit flavour is quite nice too , not eggy with a slightly crunchy top. I do not dare to claim this is a successful one,  i'm sure i did something not quite right along the way, could be the beating and the folding of the egg whites or perhaps the oven temperature that it collapsed so quickly and if possible, i would prefer a drier consistency for baking a little bit longer..

3rd attempt : remember to level the top this time... and run  the finger around the edge of the ramekin
to ensure even baking but i missed that shot. 
no thorns and rose up nice :D
not for long though...going lower...
..and lower....

 though a little wet but cooked :)

Recipe ( from ) with modifications
makes into 3 6oz ramekins
2 eggs ( i used 1 egg )
25gm + 25gm sugar
30ml strained passionfruit juice ( i used 25ml+ 1tsp passionfruit pulp)
2 egg whites
salt ( for beating egg whites,  i omitted and used 1/8tsp of cream of tartar)

1.In a bowl, cream the egg yolks with the first 25gm sugar using a handwhisk until pale and sugar has dissolved.
2.Add the passionfruit juice ( and pulp) , mix and set aside.
3.In a separate clean bowl, using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar ( or salt ) till soft peaks form. Add in the remaining 25gm sugar and whisk till firm peaks( do not overbeat them ).
4.Whisk 1/3 egg whites into the egg yolks mixture, then carefully fold thru the remaining egg whites.
5.Spoon the batter into buttered and sugared ramekins ( which said to help it rise evenly ), bake at preheated oven at 190C for 12 minutes.

Bake Along will be taking a break in February and will come back in March with Banana Nut Bread. All are welcomed to join.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Chocolate Streusel-Ribboned Cake

Here we are at our 14th bake at The Home Bakers ( THB) where we are currently baking from the book, Coffee Cakes by Lou Seibert PappasLouanne from Louanne's Kitchen has picked this chocolate streusel ribboned bundt cake for the group to bake, as i had intention of scaling down the recipe to half, i decided not to use my 10cup capacity bundt pan. I used a 6 inch round pan instead. Why it's called a streusel ribboned cake is because the streusels are scattered and layered in between the cakes in which they are supposed to look ribbon-like pattern through the cake. I was actually quite excited when i cut the cake, hoping that the streusels did not turn up looking a mess inside the cake. That's because the streusels worked out to be quite a lot for me and to finish up the streusels, i've layered it 2 times across the cake and also put some remaining ones on top of the cake Now looking back at the photographs, i think they look like wave lines to me but they actually look quite pretty to me. I did however, find that the streusels are a little sweet and not chocolatey for me, perhaps adding some chocolate chips onto the toppings can bring in more chocolate goodness for me :D

Chocolate Streusels
14gms cold butter
1.5tbsp plain flour
33gm brown sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1oz chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar and cocoa. Rub the butter in with fingers till crumbly, stir in the nuts and set aside.

Cake Batter
60gm butter
65g caster sugar
100gm eggs
1/2tsp vanilla extract
112 gm plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup yogurt

For full recipe, please visit Louanne's blog and to view everyones' bakes, click here
1. Cream the butter and sugar till light , add the eggs in 2 addition and vanilla and beat until smooth.
2.In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt in 2 increments, blending until smooth. Pour a layer of batter into the prepared pan, spreading until smooth, sprinkle with a layer of streusels, follow by another layer of batter and streusel. Add the remaining batter, spread until smooth and sprinkle remaining streusels on top of the batter.
3.Bake for 35-40mins or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 20mins and unmould the cake.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yam Abacus Beads ( 炒算盘子)

I understand that some Chinese families will prepare this dish during Chinese New Year and is particularly famous among the Hakkas Chinese. My mother is not a Hakka, she's a Teochew and she enjoys eating this a lot. Infact she loves everything Or Nee, Yam Kuih..she who doesnt eat dairy, even likes eating a yam cream cake, not just a slice but many slices. I'm not too sure if this is one of the traditional dishes for the Hakkas to have this served during Chinese New Year but this dish has an auspicious meaning, she told me. Abacus is a Chinese calculator, in those days where electronic calculators were not around and not widely used, people here will use abacus to do their arithmetic and counting. My father had one and those days, i could hear him " klik klak klik klak" doing his "maths" using his fingers with the abacus. Why they said this dish is auspicious is because the yam balls are shaped in such a way that they resemble the abacus beads and in a way, it signifies fortune and you will have roaring business and busy counting your money all through the year! LOL! By the way, according to my mum, some also prepare this dish in a soupy version..that is everything in a bowl of soup but i've not seen that before. Mine here is a dry version.

The Chinese Abacus. Photo from wikipedia

Yam balls
1 small yam, 230gm ( steamed and mashed )
108gm tapioca flour
Pot of boiling water

When the mashed yam has cooled down by quite a bit, add in the tapioca flour and knead till form a dough. If you find that it's a little difficult to form a dough, you may add in tapioca flour by little. It may appear difficult to form a dough, just keep kneading and knead to form a roll.  Cut into small pieces and shape them into balls. Use your thumb to make the dent in the middle. When they are all ready, drop the yam balls into the boiling water, let it cook till they float to the top. Remove from boiling water and sprinkle some oil to lightly coat them. Leave aside.

* Do not tempt to put a lot of tapioca flour for the dough. The more tapioca flour you put in, the more pliable your dough is, the chewier the yam balls , although easier to knead, they will end up being very chewy and taste rubbery. I personally like just a little springy texture.  Also sometimes it depends on how starchy or moist the yam is, as long as the tapioca flour that you add in can roughly form a dough, that's fine *

roll the dough into long..

cut into pieces and shape them round

Rest of the ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
30gm dried shrimps, soaked in water for 5 mins
50gm dried squids, washed
2 pieces of mushrooms, softened and shredded
1 big piece of black fungus, softened and shredded
salt to taste
chopped spring onions ( optional )

1.Pour abt 2 tbsps of oil into the wok and fry the dried shrimps. When they smell fragrant, add in garlic and shallot and saute them till aromatic. Add in the dried squids, mushroom and black fungus and fry them for a about 3-4 minutes. 
2.Throw in the yam balls, stir fry everything in the wok, splash some water round the wok so that it wont get too dry . Add salt and stir them for another few minutes. (Splash water if necessary) Dish up.  

I am submitting this post to Chinese New Year Delights 2013 hosted by Sonia of Nasi Lemak Lover

Friday, January 18, 2013

Siew Pau ( Roasted Buns ) 烧包

Siew pau. This is the first thing that comes into my mind when you talk about Seremban. Siew pau may have been existed very long ago but it was only until the first outlet in town that carries the signboard " Seremban Siew Pau"  that i actually fell in love with this chinese pastry. I guess it was not just only me, never before i seen people waiting a long queue just to buy siew pau. I mean they are really really good..from your first bite up till your last. The pastry is so fragrant, flaky and i tell you, when you walk past the outlets or waiting at the queue, the smells of those baking buns in the oven can be so tantalising that will cause you to be very impatient that you just want to quickly grab one and eat! I found a page here where they talk about how do these famous seremban siew paus came about. Much later then , more and more outlets opened up, some under a different franchise name but i personally still prefer the one that i linked up there. I"m not that overly mad over these siew paus now compared to before but if anyone were to offer me one, i will still be very happy and wont say no:)

These home baked siew paus though cant beat the original seremban siew pau but considering it to be own baked, own effort that comes with sweat and love, they are good! The pastry doesnt turn really dead soft the next day and you can always reheat them in the oven 160C for a few minutes for better results.

makes 10 buns
180gm chopped char siew
1 clove garlic, minced

1tsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1.5tsp char siew sauce
1tsp dark soya sauce
1/2tsp sugar
just a little white pepper

1tsp tapioca/cornflour + 1tbsp water ( for thickening )

Method: Mix all the sauce together except pepper. Pour about 1/2 tbsp of oil in wok, saute the garlic and add in the char siew plus the sauce. Stir and mix them around till the char siew is well coated with sauce, add the pepper, fry them for about 1-2 minutes. Add in the thickening solution, remove and let it cool down. I put in the fridge overnight for easier wrapping.

Pastry ( from Cook 4 You & Me, with some adjustments )
Pastry A ( water dough)
110gm plain flour
30gm butter
12gm icing sugar
60ml water

Pastry B( oil dough )
80gm flour
50gm shortening

egg wash for glazing
sesame seeds

1.Using a food processor, put in all ingredients (A) except water and give them 2-3 pulses. Add water slowly , pulse a few times to form a dough ( you may not see a round dough forming but gather all clumps together with your hand, you can form a dough ) Shape it into round and leave aside.
2. Again using the food processor, add in the flour and shortening all at once. Pulse a few times to form another dough. Leave both dough(1) and (2) for 30 minutes.
3.Divide both dough into 10 pieces and shape them into round balls. Wrap oil dough into water dough , round them again and flatten it. Using a rolling pin, roll them into oblong shape , roll them up like swiss roll.
Turn 90C and roll them out into oblong shape and roll them into swiss roll again. Repeat for all the rest of the dough.
4. Start from the very first completed roll ( from step 3) , flatten the dough into round disc and put in filling. Wrap and seal the buns. Repeat this step for the rest of the dough. Apply egg wash on all the surface of the buns, sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in a preheated oven 180C for 25minutes till they are browned. ( I baked them at 180 for 20 minutes, they are still pale. I then on the oven fan 180C at bake for another 15minutes )

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest ( N.Sembilan Month )  hosted by Hody of Cook 4 You & Me

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet and sour fish with lychee ( 荔枝鱼)

This is quite similar to the chinese sweet and sour fish but comes with lychee..for auspicious reason if you want this to serve during Chinese New Year. The lychee fruit is another auspicious fruit besides mandarin oranges, pomelo because of their red outer shell. Apart from this, the chinese pronounciation of lychee (荔)sounds alike with the word '利' which means profit $$... big profit! More interesting reason is ( i heard ) that people put dried lychees on the marriage bed of the newlyweds, wishing for offspring due to the pronounciation that sounds like '利子', which means to have a son/baby, it's a symbol of fertility, man!

But today we 're not talking about fertility or money. This is another dish that i cook at home on several occasions..with or without lychee. These are canned lychees that are available everywhere, also add in some lychee sugar syrup from the can..just making use of the flavour from the sugar syrup. This dish is also quite common in restaurants here, they also call it lychee fish but funny, they call it lychee fish but never comes with lychee :D

Recipe (source-own)
1 medium big size whole garoupa
( marinate with 1/2 egg and salt)
1 onion, sliced or wedged
a small piece of capsicum, cut into wedges
1can lychee ( you dont need all the lychee, i used about half a can )
cornflour for dusting the fish
spring onion for garnishing

1cup tomato ketchup
1.5tbsp plum sauce
3/4cup water
3tbsp lychee sugar syrup from the can
salt and sugar to taste

1.Marinate the fish with egg and some salt for 20 minutes. Put some cornflour on a plate, lay the fish down and dust the fish with cornflour all over, both sides.
2.Pour enough oil for deep frying the fish and fry till golden brown. Remove to a serving plate.
3. Leaving about 1.5tbsp oil in the wok, put in onion and capsicum, give it a stir, abt 10 seconds and pour in the sauce including lychee sugar syrup and water. Bring it to boil. Add salt and sugar to taste.You can also add more water if it's too thick. Remove from heat and pour the sauce all over the cooked fish. Serve immediately.

I am submitting this post to Chinese New Year Delights 2013 hosted by Sonia of Nasi Lemak Lover

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cold Oven Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This is not the first time that i'm making a cold oven pound cake. Previously when i made the Elvis Presley Pound Cake, it was also stated not to preheat the oven. That cake turned out fabulous, not sure was it the recipe or the cold oven did some magic then. The crumbs were fine and velvety smooth. Same goes with this cold oven cream cheese pound cake. I read the reviews of this cake earlier and all were good. The texture is great, smooth and soft ..really i'm quite happy how the cake turned out. But as a personal preference, i would pick the elvis presley pound cake which tasted more buttery and richer.

So is there any difference putting a pound cake in a preheated oven versus a cold oven? Out of curiosity, i did this cream cheese pound cake again yesterday. I did everything the same except for preheating my oven this time and used a lighter cream cheese spread. I was hoping there's some difference that i could detect but no. Appearance, it looks just the same as the cold oven one, it did not rise higher, nor it came out more shorter. The texture is just as good..just as soft, just as velvety smooth..i couldnt tell the difference! eh, how come? how come??

this is a slice started from the cold oven..
this is from the preheated oven..

Recipe ( from Cake Keeper by Lauren Chattman)
this is half of the recipe made in a 9" loaf pan

187gm cake flour
3/4tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
113gm butter, slightly softened
4oz cream cheese, room temperature
80gms sugar
3 eggs
1/2tbsps vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2tbsp lemon zest

1. Position the oven rack to the lower middle position, grease and line the pan and flour the sides of the pan. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
2.Combine the butter, cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bwl and cream with an eelctric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
3.With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mix well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, ginger and lemon zest.
4.Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture in batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After the last addition, mix of 30 secs on medium speed.
5.Place the cake in the cold oven. Turn the oven to 165C and bake, without opening the oven door, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.
6.Cool the cake in pan for 15 mins, then invert onto rack to cool completely.

Our next scheduled bake along will be on Souffles. Has anyone tried baking souffles or you feel intimidated making one? Then why not join JoyceZoe and myself  on Jan30, 2013, try making some souffles , any flavour or variations of your choice and post it up within ten days, thank you!

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Dark Chocolate Almond Cake

Do not overbake! this is the reminder given by my fellow friends from north south east west at THB ( The Home Bakers) who had earlier made this cake. Thank you! Together with them, we are baking our 13th cake from the book, Coffee Cake by Lou Seibert Pappas. It is important to not overbake it as what Lou also said in her book and that the center of the cake should be gently soft when at room temperature.I set my timer for 22 minutes and after baking for 20 minutes, i made myself stand in front of the oven, waiting anxiously...Time is up, tested the cake and looks like it's cooked, just popped the cake in for another 2 more mins i thought. When the cake's ready, i just let it cool completely in the pan for 30 minutes before removing it out, it had actually shrunk quite a bit, probably abt 3/4inch around its diameter.

I'm truly impressed with the outcome of the cake. It is very moist, soft and so tender ..a melt in your mouth kind of texture. It is also chocolatey and paired well with the nuttiness from the ground almonds needed in the recipe too. Well i guess the timing here is really important baking this cake and also the temperature of course. I've read some of the members baked it at 170C, 175C ,180C for 20mins, 25mins and 30 if anyone of you who are interested to bake this cake, just be a little careful with these and also the folding of the egg whites into the batter. Happy Baking!

Jocelyn from Riceball Eats has chosen this wonderful cake for us to bake this round, for full recipe please hop over to her site here. To view the rest of the members who already done the cake, click here.

Recipe ( this is half of the recipe made in a 7 inch pan)
56gm butter
4oz bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, chopped ( i used bittersweet)
3 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt ( for whisking egg whites )
pinch of cream of tartar ( for whisking egg whites)
1/8cup of caster sugar, plus 1/4 cup
1tbsp brewed coffee, Grand Marnier or rum ( i used rum)
11/2 oz of ground almonds or toasted and skinned hazelnuts ( i used ground almonds)
3tbsps plain flour

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Butter and line a 7 inch  round pan.
2. In a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate and stir to blend. Cool.
3.In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick( i used a whisk ) , then beat in the 1/4cup of sugar and the coffee or spirits. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture until blended.
4.In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy with a whisk or an electric mixer , add the salt and cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Add the 1/8 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.Fold in one third of the egg whites to the chocolate egg mixture, then fold in the nuts and then the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake for 24minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before removing. Dust with icing sugar if desired.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts (栗子焖鸡 )

I believe most chinese are quite familiar with this dish. Previously when i cooked this the first time i got those chestnuts from the market, i got to crack the shells, peel and skin it..maybe there's an easy way of doing that but i didnt know and it was quite a painful job for me to skin the nuts and then i was like throwing away some too..those which were hard for me to skin them but now i find a much more easier way to cook this dish. Use this.

So the package says "Roasted Peeled Chestnuts". You can just eat this straight from the packet as these are already cooked. Ever since i discovered these, i have cooked this a couple of times. The weight of this package is 128gms, actually it's less than that and i have used 1.5 packet to cook this. Of course then, you can just use 1 packet if you prefer less chestnuts. Also if you have ginger wine, use it in replacement of chinese cooking wine, i find that it's more aromatic but now i have no more ginger wine in the house, so the chinese cooking wine will do.

200gm peeled chestnuts from the packet
3/4 of a chicken ( mine about 700 gms) , cut into pieces
1 small piece ginger  30gm, sliced
1 stalk green onion/spring onion, sectioned
1tbsp oyster sauce
1tsp sesame oil
chinese cooking wine or ginger wine
1/8 tsp of dark soya sauce
1/4tsp chicken powder ( optional )
1/2 tsp salt and pinch of sugar
3/4 cup of water

1. Marinate the chicken with 1/2tsp salt, 1/2 tsp light soy sauce and 1tsp cornflour for about 30 mins.
2. Deep fry in hot oil till they are cooked. Remove the chicken, leaving about 2-3 tbsps oil in the wok.
3.Put the chestnuts in and fry them for a minute, add in the ginger slices and the white parts of the spring onion and saute them for half a minute. Sizzle some wine ( just a cap from the bottle ) Add in the chicken pieces, oyster sauce, sesame oil , dark soya sauce ,and stir fry for a while. You can splash in a little water around the sides of the wok. Add chicken powder ( is using ), salt and sugar , and pour in the water. Let them cook and simmer  for about 15-20 minutes. Taste and see if you need more salt or sugar. Add spring onion and lastly pour in another cap of cooking wine, mix well. Off fire and remove from wok.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blueberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

I finally found some space to freeze my ice cream maker bowl! Have been delaying and delaying to make ice cream ..reason is there's no space in my freezer to freeze the bowl. It's my first time using my ice cream maker which i had bought many months ago. Well of course we can still make ice cream without an ice cream maker but i just want to make use of something that i had already spent money buying it. Then i saw you, you and you making ice cream..LOL! i've filed quite a number of ice cream recipes that some of you made but for now, let's take a look at this one. I saw Fern making this blueberry cream cheese ice cream sometime back and  i know i'm gonna make it some day..just a matter of time..and the time is here. There's no cooking involved as this is a non custard based ice cream.. and yet it's rich and creamy...not 'jelak' ok..:D The ice cream is also layered with some blueberries compote which i find that it's really nice altogether. Alternatively as what Fern suggested, you can also make some other fruit strawberries, passionfruit..etc. So good..try it, i'm sure you will love this too!

Left: The ice cream mixture just after blended and ready to chill
Right : Mixture after churned the next day. As i've have used a wide and shallow dish, i spreaded the compote in one layer only. If you used a smaller and deeper container, you can do multiple layers.

Recipe ( from To Food With Love )
Ingredients for ice cream
250gm cream cheese
11/4cup heavy cream/dairy whipping cream
3/4cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh milk ( i used 1/2 cup full cream milk )
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
11/2tbsp lemon juice

Blueberry Compote
11/4cup fresh/frozen berries ( i used 1 punnet/1cup)
3-3.5tbsp sugar ( taste to adjust )
1tbsp lemon juice
1tsp cornflour +1tbsp water

In a food processor or stand mixer ( i used stand mixer with paddle attachment) , blend the cheese and cream till well combined. Add the sugar and blend again. Add the milk and blend till smooth and creamy, scarping out any cheese stuck to the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice, blend till well mixed. Pour into a container and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Blueberry Compote
Combine berries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan on medium heat and bring to boil. Simmer for 8-10mins until blueberries are soft and mushy. Roughly mash or break up the blueberries with spatula. Add in  the cornstarch solution to thicken the compote. Turn off the heat and transfer the compote into a heatproof bowl. Let it cool and refrigerated until needed.

Remove the ice cream from fridge and churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

In a freeze safe container, place 1/3 of the churned ice cream , followed by 1/3 of the blueberry compote. Repeat this layering process until finished. Freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours before serving.

Note* i have used a combination of Philadephia cream cheese and light cream cheese for the above as i have some leftover cream cheese which i used for making a creamcheese pound cake which will be shared later.