Sunday, October 31, 2010

Easy Chocolate Mousse

Creamy chocolate mousse with fresh strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream

The first time I made chocolate mousse, I made it straight out of a packet of instant mix. Perhaps I'm fussy, but it tasted pretty bad and I think I had to throw away most of it because nobody else wanted to eat it. It just tasted a little plasticky. So, this time, I decided to make chocolate mousse from scratch instead. Quick and easy to prepare, all you need are eggs, cream and chocolate (and a little sugar). Smooth, light and creamy, it's a good substitute for chocolate ice-cream or soft serve :)

Easy Chocolate Mousse


3 large eggs, separated
350ml thickened cream
200g dark cooking chocolate
2 tbsp caster sugar


  1. Melt 180g of the chocolate together with 200ml of the cream in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir with a whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Then stir in egg yolks.
  2. Whip the rest of the cream to soft peaks.
  3. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then add sugar and beat till stiff and glossy.
  4. Fold the beaten egg white into the chocolate mixture in two batches until just combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour into ramekins or little cups and chill for four hours or overnight.
  6. With the remaining 20g chocolate, use a grater to make chocolate curls.
  7. Serve chilled chocolate mousse with whipped cream, berries and chocolate curls.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Butterflied Curry-Infused Roast Chicken

I love home-cooked roast chicken, especially free-range chicken which is sweet, moist, succulent and incredibly tender. Here is another one of my versions of roast chicken, made with pantry ingredients. I used a variety of spices commonly found in curries, and also added some curry leaves for aromatics. The result is a mildly and sweetly spiced chicken with a subtle hint of curry flavour (from the leaves). I also butterflied the chicken in order to reduce cooking time. Here is the recipe below:


1 whole free-range chicken (about 1.5kg)
Olive oil

1 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil


Mix marinade together and put aside. Butterfly the chicken by using a pair of kitchen shears/scissors to cut along the backbone of the chicken. Then flatten the chicken out and place in a roasting pan. Rub marinade all over the chicken and under the skin. Place a sprig of curry leaves under the skin and another 2-3 sprigs under the cavity of the chicken. Leave to marinade for a few hours.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Remove chicken from fridge and leave out for about an hour. Drizzle olive oil all over the chicken and pour 1-2 tbsp of water in the pan to prevent the marinade from getting burnt in the oven. Place tray on the middle rack and roast for about 45 minutes or until juices run clear and skin is slightly charred and crisp.  Use a brush to baste the chicken with the marinade in the pan halfway through cooking. When cooked, remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wok-tossed Diced Lamb with Sichuan Pepper and Chillies

We rarely eat out, mainly because with three kids in tow, it can be quite difficult to have a nice and quiet sit-down meal. Our kids just can't sit still. However, last weekend, I managed to "persuade" my sister to babysit (okay, she was nice enough to take the hint) while G and I went out for lunch. It was a tough choice, but we finally settled on this restaurant called Red Chilli Sichuan, since it's a place that we probably won't be bringing the kids to in the near future. Naturally, all the dishes we ordered were spicy and had more chilli in it than I've eaten in a year.

Most of the food featured on the menu either had a tonne of sichuan peppercorn in them or were cooked with a tremendous amount of chilli. We ordered this diced chicken dish which was just that - little bits of deep-fried chicken cubes buried under a mountain of crispy dried chillies, not to mention the lashings of Sichuan pepper and chilli seeds in that dish. It was a tongue-and-mouth-numbing experience, but delicious nonetheless. The cold bean noodle in sour sauce provided some cool respite. (Hmm...I wonder if dentists in the province of Sichuan used Sichuan peppercorns as anaesthetic back in the old days....).

I was inspired to cook something similar, so with lamb in hand (which I had in the fridge), I came up with a lamb version of the dish. Here is the recipe below:


250g lamb rump steak, diced into small cubes
1/3 cup potato flour (or substitute with cornflour)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
2 spring onions, white part only, chopped
1 cup dried chillis, cut in half
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (or more if desired), toasted in pan and crushed finely with a mortar and pestle
Oil for frying

1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp soy
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
Pinch of salt
Dash of pepper
1 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (optional)


  1. Combine meat with marinade and leave for 2 hours.
  2. Heat oil in wok. Lighly coat meat with potato flour (or cornflour) and deep fry for 2-3 minutes till golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
  3. Heat up 1/4 cup oil in a clean wok and fry garlic and ginger, then add spring onions and dried chillies (together with the seeds) and fry for about a minute. Mix in the hoisin sauce and red wine vinegar.
  4. Add lamb and toss in wok with the salt, sugar, black pepper and Sichuan pepper. Dish up and serve with steamed white rice.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Parmesan & Herb Crusted Chicken Schnitzel with Crunchy Buttery Garlic Sourdough and Tomato Bocconcini Salad

We had lunch with A and family at Gordon Pizza Bar last weekend and had great pizzas and fantastic garlic sourdough bread. So we decided to get a loaf of sourdough from the supermarket and make garlic bread and chicken schnitzel for dinner. This was also after watching Junior Masterchef the night before where they demonstrated how to prepare chicken schnitzel with heirloom tomato and bocconcini salad. G wanted to make the salad too, so we bought some cherry tomatos and a tub of traditional bocconcini.

This is really quick and easy to prepare. To make the garlic bread, preheat oven to 220°C. Slice the sourdough about 3/4 inch thick. Then melt some (3-4 tablespoons) of butter with some olive oil and a few pieces of crushed garlic in a pan and place four slices of bread in it, coating the bread evenly with the butter-oil mixture. Grill for a few minutes, then flip over and put more butter in the pan, coating the other side of the bread. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley. When they start to crisp up a little, remove and place them on the oven rack and bake for about 3-5 minutes until they turn golden brown. They start to brown very quickly at this stage. Remove from oven and while hot, take a clove of garlic with the top chopped off and rub over the surface of both sides of the bread. Serve hot. The garlic sourdough is super-crunchy and buttery all over inside out. It screams out butter and garlic! (Of course, the texture will depend on the quality of the sourdough used)

Super crunchy and buttery garlic and herb bread

The chicken schnitzel is a breeze to prepare too.


1 chicken breast fillet, escalloped (this gives you 4-5 pieces)
5-6 pieces of stale bread, torn to pieces (I used sourdough)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp milk
Plain flour for coating
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for frying

  1. Using a meat mallet, flatten the chicken into thin escallopes, from which you will get 4-5 pieces.
  2. In a food processor, combine stale bread with some parsley, rosemary, thyme and parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Using the pulse button, process into breadcrumbs. Pour out onto a plate.
  3. Heat up about 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Dip the chicken escallope into the flour (shake off excess), then into the egg mixture, and into the breadcrumbs and coat both sides. Then dip it in egg again and back into the breadcrumbs for a double coating. Throw breadcrumbs over the top and all over the chicken and press the crumbs in firmly to ensure a thick and even coating.
  4. Slowly lower the chicken into the pan and repeat the same crumbing process with the other pieces of chicken. Fry chicken for about 4 minutes on each side till golden brown and crisp. Add more oil if necessary. Serve hot with salad and white wine. 

Absolutely yummy and addictive chicken schnitzel

I prepared the salad using cherry tomatoes (or any sweet tomatoes will do), bocconcini and flat-leaf parsley, along with some mixed salad leaves that we had in the fridge. Cut tomatoes in half and place on a plate with the salad leaves. Add some torn parsley leaves, and then tear the bocconcini into rough little pieces and throw them on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss lightly and serve with schnitzel. Eat everything together in one mouthful...totally absolutely delicious! Love the taste of the creamy bocconcini with the parsley and tomatoes. The schnitzel is bursting with so much flavour from the fresh herbs, sourdough crumbs and parmesan! Addictive!

Creamy Homestyle Scrambled Eggs

My mum used to make me scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast when I was a kid. It was my favourite! Soft, creamy and buttery eggs on buttered toast. She would then cut up the toast into six little rectangles which I would then pop into my mouth and savour each perfect little bite. Did I mention butter?

This is exactly how I like my scrambled eggs. I have never known them to be cooked any other way except this. Anything else just isn't scrambled eggs, which is why I almost never ever order them when I eat out because I know they just aren't the same. I have encountered the kind served at breakfast buffets and they are usually hard, crumbly, dry and bland.

These homestyle ones that are so memorable to me are just perfect, and the trick is to stir it slowly over low heat in a small pot or pan. If you use a large frying pan or too high heat, the eggs will cook too quickly and end up a little like scrambled omelette instead of having that soft and creamy custard-like consistency.

Slow-cooked Scrambled Eggs


2 large eggs, beaten well
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper


  1. Combine milk with the beaten eggs and beat well. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  2. Place butter in a small pot or pan (approx 15cm radius) and place it on low heat. When the butter starts to melt, pour in the egg mixture. It should fill the entire surface of the pan/pot and come up to at least 1 cm high. Stir slowly with a wooden spoon/spatula. After about 5 minutes, the liquid mixture should start to coat the bottom and side of the pot as well as the tip of the spoon/spatula. If the heat gets too hot, remove the pot from the flame and continue stirring to avoid the eggs overcooking. Once stabilised, put it back on the flame. Stir slowly and continuously, ensuring that the egg does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. After about 5-8 minutes, the egg mixture should start to come together to form a soft creamy consistency that will not fall off the spoon when scooped.
  4. Take it off the heat immediately and serve it on 2 slices of buttered toast (preferably cold sliced butter). Enjoy!
Made scrambled eggs again the next day - a creamier version this time

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Asparagus, Potato & Sundried Tomato Filo Tart

Eating this reminds me of the days back in college when I used to have cheese and asparagus crepe for lunch. This is no crepe, but a simple and flavoursome tart made with layers of filo pastry, and then filled with a delicious combination of cheesy mashed potatoes and asparagus, then topped with sun-dried tomatoes. I came across this recipe on Jamie Oliver's website when I was searching for ideas to use the filo pastry I had in the fridge. I figured I had to use up the pastry soon as they dry out pretty quickly if left open for too long. The original recipe does not have sun-dried tomatoes. I added them to enhance the flavour of the tart with a little extra zing and saltiness. Plus, it was something I had at the back of the larder that I had forgotten about until now. If you love asparagus, then this is a wonderful dish to try. Mashed potatoes, cheese and asparagus taste fantastic together with the light and crispy filo pastry. And anything with so much butter in it has to taste good!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Coconut Shrimp and Spicy Pasta with Chorizo

 I love eating mushrooms. No pasta is complete for me without mushrooms. Not only do they provide texture, but they enhance and bring out the flavour of the other ingredients. Here, I have basically made an Aglio Olio with the addition of button mushrooms and sliced chorizo. I also used fresh bird's eye chilli instead of chilli flakes.
Spicy Chorizo Pasta with a side of Deep-fried Coconut Shrimp

To make our dinner more substantial, I prepared Z's ultimate favourite dish - deep-fried prawn fritters in crispy batter. Shell 500g of prawns, leaving the tail, and marinate with a little salt, pepper and cornflour. Then, just take 1/2 cup self-raising flour and season with salt, pepper and sugar, and combine with 1/2 tbsp oil and 110ml water. This should give you a nice thick batter. Coat prawns with batter and deep fry till a light golden colour. This shouldn't take too long. You don't want to overcook the prawns. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Serve with your favourite sauce. I had mine with some sriracha mayo and hot chilli sauce.

I also made some coconut shrimp by dipping the prawns in the batter, and then rolling it in some dessicated coconut. The result is a mildly sweet coconut flavour with a crunchy coconut crust.

Tip: To get the prawns nice and straight, use a knife and lightly score the underside of the prawn 3-4 times and stretch the prawns to straighten them.

Crispy prawn fritters

Served with Sriracha mayonnaise

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Goan Chicken Vindaloo with Cashew

I haven't cooked hot and spicy food in such a long time that I had forgotten how much I love eating it. After watching an episode of Indian Food Made Easy, I was inspired to make Chicken Vindaloo. It is slightly different from the way I used to cook it, with the addition of a few extra spices. The toasted cashew nuts gives it a nice touch and makes this dish even tastier.

Here is the recipe, adapted from Indian Food Made Easy:


1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
5 black peppercorns, left whole
2 green cardamom pods, seeds only
2 cloves
1cm/½in piece cinnamon
1cm/½in piece ginger, peeled and chopped
7 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
3 fresh red chillies or more (I used dried chillies)
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1 inch cubes
65ml/2½fl oz vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
¾ tsp mustard seeds
Handful cashew nuts


1. Using a spice grinder, grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon to a fine powder.
2. In a food processor, blend the ginger, garlic, chillies and white wine vinegar to a paste.
3. Mix the ground spice mixture with the paste until well combined and season with a pinch of salt. Rub the mixture all over the meat using your fingers, then set the meat aside, covered, to marinate for 1½-2 hours.
4. Heat four tablespoons of the oil in a non-stick pan. When the oil is hot, add the onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown.
5. Add the marinated chicken pieces and fry for 6-7 minutes, turning once, until golden-brown on all sides. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add small splashes of boiling water to the pan as necessary if the juices in the pan dry out. Add as little water as possible as the resulting sauce should be quite thick. Check for seasoning and add a little sugar or extra vinegar if preferred.
6. Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a separate pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. (CAUTION: the mustard seeds will start to pop. Keep the pan well away from your face and eyes.)
7. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, add the cashew nuts and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are golden-brown.
8. Pour the fried cashew nuts and mustard seeds over the vindaloo and serve with basmati rice.

Salmon with Teriyaki Glaze and Garlic Seaweed Broccoli

When the kids are at home, I try to prepare a simple dinner that doesn't require too much time in the kitchen or over the stove. Usually, that will mean using the oven (roasts and grills), braising or steaming. Somehow, japanese food can be so simple to prepare with such basic ingredients, which is why I decided on baked salmon teriyaki with a simple steamed broccoli. Quick, simple and delicious.

Strawberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Rosewater Frosting

White chocolate with rosewater essence is one of my favourite combinations. I first tried it in a macaron, but as I do not have the time (nor confidence) to make macarons, I decided to make cupcakes instead. Thanks to my cousins, I managed to get hold of some strawberry paste. I'm not sure where to find strawberry paste here, but I might try checking out Essential Ingredient one day. The strawberry paste indeed smells wonderfully sweet, and much better than strawberry essence. Here is the recipe below:

Chocolate, roses and strawberries...yum!


125g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon strawberry paste
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1½ cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup milk
A few drops pink food colouring (optional)

140g white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
50ml milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon rosewater essence
80g butter, softened

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line muffin tins with paper cases.
  2. Combine ingredients and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined. Then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes until batter is smooth.
  3. Fill paper cases with the mixture and bake in oven for about 20 minute or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  4. Cool on wire rack. Decorate with frosting.
To make the Frosting:
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of almost-simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Stir until smooth and leave to cool. Combine all ingredients including cooled melted chocolate and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Crumbed Porkballs with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

I love sweet and sour pork, but there are so many things that can go wrong with it, especially when they come from your local chinese takeaway shop. Sometimes, the pork is this tiny, hard and stringy cube of meat covered in a mound of puffy batter the size of golf balls, it would have been better off called sweet and sour dough fritters instead. At times, you find that after you have consumed the meat in the dish, you're left with half of what you started with, which are mainly the vegetables that make up all the colours of the rainbow (unless they have all been tinged red by the food colouring in the sauce). And there's nothing worse than gluey, slimey, translucent, bright neon pink sauce that I once encountered before but never dared to eat. It was a most bizarre sight to say the least.

So I decided to make this simplified version of sweet and sour pork. I used minced pork so that it is easier on the kids' little teeth and I don't have to cut it up for them like I usually do. And kids love anything on skewers. Food on skewers somehow seem more appetizing and fun for kids, like a savoury lollipop. As for the sauce, there are many variations that you can make to it. Some like it sweet, some like it more tangy. The one I have made here is a no-frills dipping sauce with the addition of apple sauce to balance out the tanginess.

Pork ball skewers with sweet and sour dipping sauce


400g pork mince
1 tsp grated ginger
1 1/2 tbsp light soy
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 egg, beaten
2 tbsp store-bought breadcrumbs + 1/2 cup extra for coating
2 tsp cornflour
Vegetable/Peanut oil for deep-frying
8 bamboo skewers

Sauce ingredients:
1 clove garlic, chopped
Half brown onion, quartered
4 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp chinese rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tbsp apple sauce / plum sauce
Dash of black pepper
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water


  1. Combine minced pork, ginger, soy, pepper, sugar, sesame oil, egg and 2 tbsp breadcrumbs. Then add the cornflour and mix through. Leave in fridge to marinade for 1/2 hour.
  2. Heat oil in wok. Shape the meatballs to about 3cm in diameter and roll them in the extra breadcrumbs until evenly coated. Deep-fry until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper. Thread them onto bamboo skewers.
  3. To prepare the sauce, combine all sauce ingredients (except for garlic, onion and cornflour mixture) in a bowl.
  4. Heat up oil in pan and fry the garlic and onion. Add sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Taste for seasoning. Add cornflour mixture to thicken. Serve immediately with meatballs.
Note: Of course, you can add other ingredients to the meatballs like chopped carrots, spring onions, prawns etc but I have kept it simple here.

Luscious Lemon Roast Chicken

Two of my favourite ingredients: Lemon and Butter. Results: Heavenly.

Everyone should know how to prepare a basic roast chicken. It's easy and you'll be amazed how such simple flavours come together wonderfully in this dish. You really can't go wrong with these basic ingredients. Use fresh herbs, and free-range or chemical free chickens are best as they yield perfectly tender, moist and juicy results. Butter adds depth to the pan juices, making the sauce delightfully rich and luscious.


1.6kg whole free-range chicken
10 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 lemon
A few sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
100g butter
3 potatoes
3 carrots, and any other vegetables you like
800g pumpkin
1 medium onion, quartered
1 bulb garlic, kept whole and tops chopped off, rubbed with olive oil
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Cut the potatoes, carrots and pumpkin into chunks the size of golf balls. Parboil potatoes by placing them in a pot of salted water and bring to boil for 8-10 minutes. Drain in colander and leave to dry. Combine potatoes, carrots and onion with olive oil, salt, pepper and some of the rosemary. Do the same for the pumpkin in a separate bowl and put aside. Place everything except for the pumpkin into a large roasting pan.
  3. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil, rosemary, thyme and plenty of salt and pepper. Use a knife to stab the lemon all over and place the lemon in the cavity of the chicken, together with two sprigs of thyme and 3 cloves of garlic.
  4. Slide fingers under the chicken skin and insert some butter and garlic cloves under the skin.
  5. Place chicken (breast-side up) in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables and throw in a few sprigs of thyme, remaining garlic cloves and the rest of the butter all over the vegetables. Toss the whole head of garlic into the pan. Roast uncovered for about 30 minutes. Then, add in the pumpkin and roast for another 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked and the juices run clear. Remove from oven and let chicken rest for 10 minutes, covered with aluminium foil. Squeeze out the garlic from the roasted garlic bulb and serve with chicken along with the vegetables and pan juices.
Note: If there are leftover pan juices, you can thicken it up with some cream to make a sauce for your favourite pasta.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Braised Pig's Trotter with Peanuts

Comfort food - Sticky melt-in-your-mouth pig's trotters with braised peanuts

Last weekend, we brought the kids out to the city to visit the Powerhouse Museum. On our way home, we stopped by at Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet to grab some takeaway for dinner. We ordered some sweet and sour pork ribs with rice for the kids, amongst other things that we ordered for ourselves, namely spicy beef noodle soup, dough fritters and spring onion pancakes. When we arrived home, we discovered that they had given us rice with pig's trotter instead of pork ribs. Imagine our dismay! Well, we let the kids try the trotter dish anyway, and they seemed to love it, even asking for seconds! I decided to try a little and found it rather tasty to my surprise, given that its pale yellowish colour wasn't too aesthetically appealing. I was so used to eating pig's trotter cooked in black vinegar that this was a pleasant change for me. And since the kids loved it, I figured that I should try replicating this dish for our next meal.

After searching the web for recipes on pig's trotters, and analysing many different versions, I finally settled on this one by Amy Beh. The trotters have a nice gelatinous texture that contributes to the sticky consistency of the gravy, coating your entire mouth with every spoonful. And the addition of braised peanuts gives this dish a nice mellow taste. Here is an adapted version of the recipe which is really easy to prepare. No knife and chopping board required!


1 pig's trotter, chopped into pieces (ask your butcher to do this)
200g peanuts
1 whole bulb garlic with skin on 800ml water
2 tbsp Shao Hsing wine

Sauce ingredients
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp thick soy sauce
15g rock sugar


  1. Cook peanuts in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain and put aside.
  2. Rinse the trotter well, then blanch in boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Drain well. Rinse under a tap with cold water. Drain well.
  3. Combine trotters, peanuts, garlic, sauce ingredients and water in a deep pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 2 hours or until meat is tender and the gravy is thick. Add Shao Hsing wine. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Strawberry "Milkshake" Tres Leches Cake

Strawberry-flavoured cake with a tart and fruity strawberry base, soaked in three milks and topped with Kirsch-laced whipped cream

Recently, I have been having a penchant for all things pink, perhaps because it's PINKTOBER®. Strawberries are in season and it's always the first thing I see when I enter the grocery store. Trust the stores to choose a strategic spot to display them. I had just baked a strawberry pound cake last week, which was all finished yesterday. So, finally I get to try making a Tres Leches cake, which is a traditional Mexican cake. I must admit I have never seen or tasted one before this, but from the description of it, I could pretty much imagine what it would taste like. Initially, I wanted to make a coffee-flavoured one. That would have tasted so intense! But I settled on making a pink strawberry version of it instead, and after scouring the internet for recipes, I decided to use this one which I found on Myrecipes. I made some changes and added strawberries to it, which gave a slight tartness to balance out the sweetness of the cake. And of course, Tres Leches Cake means Three Milks Cake, being the use of cream, evaporated milk and condensed milk in soaking the cake. Mmm....tastes like strawberry milkshake in a cake! And I think dear H might like this one :)

Here is the recipe, adapted from Myrecipes:

  • 1/2  cup (approx 112g)  unsalted butter
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 5  large eggs
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp strawberry essence
  • A few drops pink food colouring
  • 1 1/2  cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 250g punnet strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1  cup milk or whipping cream
  • 1  (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1  (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2  cups  whipping cream
  • 1/4  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch (optional) or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 177°C. Grease and flour a 13- x 9-inch baking dish (or a 9-inch round springform pan). Arrange strawberry pieces on the base of the tin.
2. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; mix in eggs one at a time. Then add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, strawberry essence and a few drops of pink food colouring. Combine and sift flour and baking powder; add gradually to butter mixture, stirring to blend. Pour batter into prepared tin over the strawberries, and bake at 177°C for 30-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Pierce cake with a fork all over.
3. Combine and whisk the 3 milks, and pour on top of cake; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
4. Beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, and Kirsch/vanilla at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until thick; spread over cake, and serve cold.

Mini Rice Omelettes

This is a quick and easy way to use up leftover rice, and these mini fried-rice-cakes are great for tiny little hands. Terrific for school lunch boxes as well!


1 1/2 cup cooked white rice
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 slice of bacon
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (optional)
1 tbsp chopped parsley or spring onion
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp heavy cream/milk (optional)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

  1. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and stir fry the bacon, garlic, rice, and parsley/spring onion for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Combine the rice mixture with the beaten egg and cream (and cheese, if used) and season with salt and pepper. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat up some oil in the pan and ladle spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. Fry both sides till golden brown. Drain on absorbent kitchen towel. Serve hot with chilli, ketchup or barbecue sauce.
Note: You can also substitute 1/2 cup of the rice with some grated potatoes.

The kids like to "paint" using squeeze-bottle ketchup and barbecue sauce

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Biscuit de Savoie (Sponge cake with berries and cream)

A soft, light and fluffy sponge laced with Kirsch and layered with strawberries and cream

Decorated wtih fresh strawberries and lightly dusted with icing sugar

A scrumptious slice of Biscuit de Savoie...perfect for any time of the day!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chunky Chilli Crab Dip

I love chilli crab, especially the part where I get to mop up the delicious spicy and tangy sauce with some hot toast. Really yummy. I have never cooked a whole crab before. Live and uncooked crabs intimidate me a little, especially the big black ones with their little beady eyes and big fat pincers. A bit like a giant tarantula masquerading as Darth Vader. The tiny little crabs can be cute though. So anyway, to get around this "problem", I resorted to using canned crab meat, which I think is a fine substitute. I'm not really that fussy, and it's especially time-saving if you're not a champion crab-meat-picker.

This sauce or dip goes well with plain toast, fried mantou/bun, a crusty baguette, nachos, potato wedges, fries or chunky potato chips.

2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
5-6 bird's eye chilli
1 tsp belacan (shrimp paste)
1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 can of crab meat (approx 170g per can)
1/2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
1 egg, beaten
Salt to taste
Lemon juice (optional)

1/2 tbsp soy bean paste
5 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp black vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
200ml water
200ml chicken stock
  1. Mix sauce ingredients together. Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a wok and fry garlic, ginger and chilli for 1-2 minutes, and then add belacan.
  2. Add sauce ingredients and palm sugar, and bring to a boil.
  3. Add chopped coriander and crab meat and simmer for a 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Add a splash of lemon juice if used.
  4. Add cornstarch mixture, stir and bring to a boil. Then add egg and stir gently until it is mixed into the sauce.
  5. Dish up, garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and serve immediately with toast, crusty bread, potato chips/wedges or nachos. 
Note: If a more runny consistency is desired, omit the cornstarch.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tempura Dogs with a Bite

Tempura tuna dog
Hot dog buns filled with tuna chilli mayo, deep fried to a golden brown and served with ketchup, sriracha sauce and more mayo!

I have always wanted to make this but just didn't find the right time to do so. Well, (un)fortunately, we had hot dog buns in the pantry but no dogs (sausages)! So what could I do with six hot dog buns and no dogs? I could make tempura dogs! This was inspired by the "Roti John" I used to buy back in Malaysia at the night markets. The buns are filled with sardines, lamb, chicken or beef, and then deep fried in batter till crispy and filled with three squirts of chilli sauce from the squeeze bottle. I think I have managed to replicate it pretty successfully here, except that I only had canned tuna in the pantry, so I used that.

If you would like to make your own tempura dogs, here is the recipe:


2 hot dog buns
1 can (95g) of tuna
1 egg, beaten
Soft butter
Sriracha (or any other tangy chilli sauce)
Salt and pepper
Oil for shallow/deep frying
Tempura flour
Ice cold water


  1. Mash the tuna and mix it with the mayo and chilli sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix the tempura flour with some cold water until you get a slighly runny consistency. Do not overmix. There should be lumps and traces of flour in the batter.
  3. Using a serrated knife, slice the buns down the middle without cutting all the way through. Spread a little butter on the inside and fill with tuna. Press lightly to seal the gap, making sure the filling does not leak out.
  4. Heat up the oil in a wok on medium-high heat.
  5. Roll the bun in the beaten egg, and then coat it with the tempura mixture and drop it into the wok.
  6. Use a spoon to flick droplets of tempura batter onto and around the bun in the oil. This will give you the crispy tempura bits. Use a spatula/ladle to lift these bits from the oil onto the bun while it is frying. (If shallow frying, use a ladle to bathe the top of the bun with hot oil). Turn the bun on all sides till golden brown and crisp.
  7. Drain on kitchen towel. Slice and serve with your favourite sauce.
You can vary the filling for the bun. Try it with shredded chicken, minced lamb/beef, canned sardines fried with ketchup, chilli and onion, cheese, and of course, why not a hot dog sausage! Great for lunch or as a snack anytime of the day!

Here's a dog with a big crunchy bite!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Coffee-glazed Bbq Ribs, Cauliflower Soup and Potato Carrot Rosti

Tender and juicy pork ribs with a sweet and sticky coffee glaze

For tonight's dinner, I wanted to try making bbq baby back ribs with a coffee glaze. The result was a wonderfully balanced combination of sweetness, earthiness, a little tang and a hint of spice. Here are the ingredients that I came up with:

Sweet and Sticky Coffee-glazed ribs:

Spice rub (for one rack of ribs):

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Coffee glaze:

1 tbsp instant coffee granules
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp golden syrup
Splash of lemon juice (optional)

Combine the ingredients for the glaze and use it for basting the ribs.

For method of preparation, please refer to the earlier post on Cheesy Pasta and Ribs Nite.

Delicious, mouthwatering baby back ribs hot off the grill

Potato and carrot "Rosti"
Potato and Carrot Rosti:

1 medium carrot, grated and microwaved until softened
2 waxy potatoes, grated and excess water squeezed out
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp plain flour
1/3 cup toasted breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil

40g butter
A few sprigs of thyme
Olive oil for frying


Combine all ingredients above. Heat up some butter and olive oil with the thyme, on medium heat. Using a tablespoon, scoop the potato mixture and shape them into flat round patties, and place them in the pan. There should be enough oil to come halfway up the patties. Fry for 3-4 minutes each side, depending on how thick/big the patties are, until golden brown.

(I had initially wanted to bake these in the oven instead (and top them with some grated cheddar). However, I had the ribs baking in the oven, so the frying pan worked just as well.)

Creamy cauliflower soup with sauteed mushrooms
Cream of Cauliflower Soup

I love cauliflower, maybe because when I was a kid, I didn't like eating green vegetables and cauliflower was acceptable as it wasn't fibrous, didn't leave green bits in your teeth and had a neutral taste. Cream of cauliflower soup is one of my favourites, and I have used this recipe from Gordon Ramsay numerous times. Here it is:

  • 1 large cauliflower (about 1.3kg/3lb), stalks discarded and florets chopped
  • 1 large potato , peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion , chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.2l light chicken or vegetable stock
  • 600ml full-fat milk
  • 142ml carton double cream
  • 250g wild mushrooms - choose from ceps, girolles (chanterelles), morels (either a mixture or just one type)
  • 1-2 tbsp finely snipped chives

  1. Put the cauliflower, potato and onion in a large saucepan with the butter and half of the oil. Gently heat the contents until they start to sizzle, then cover with a lid and sweat over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should be softened but not coloured.
  2. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then pour in the milk and return gently to a boil. This way, there will be no scum forming from the milk. Season to taste then simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Pour in half the cream.
  3. Blend everything in a food processor or blender, in batches. For an extra creamy texture, push the purée through a sieve with the back of a ladle. Stir in the rest of the cream. (If preparing ahead cool, cover and chill for up to a day.)
  4. To serve, pick over the mushrooms. Wild mushrooms can be gritty so wash them quickly in a bowl of cold water then drain well and pat dry. Trim the stalks and chop or slice the mushrooms neatly. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and, when very hot, stir fry the mushrooms quickly until nicely browned, seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper as you cook them.
  5. Reheat the soup until piping hot. Check for seasoning and ladle into warmed bowls. Spoon the mushrooms into the centre and sprinkle lightly with the chives. Italy's elegant, mildly citrussy whites, such as Vernaccia di San Gimignano, or a Chardonnay would suit this rich soup.