Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Curry Mee with Poached Chicken and Deep-fried Tofu

For tonight's dinner, I made a simple dish of noodles in curry, topped with slices of poached chicken (skin on), deep-fried tofu, cuttlefish ball (for variety), coriander and julienned cucumber (that was leftover from Sunday night's chicken rice meal). I decided to make the curry a little thicker (with a more intense coconut flavour) compared to laksa (which I'm accustomed to as being more dilute and "soupy"). After all, I did plan on calling this "Curry Mee" and not "Laksa".

Making this wasn't too difficult. On the other hand, I found it harder trying to harvest the lemongrass from our overflowing lemongrass plant (or more like a bush), trying to work my way through the long and spiky leaves that kept getting in my face. I prepared the spice blend using shallots, garlic, lemongrass, coriander, dried chillies (chilli paste) and belacan (shrimp paste). That's it! I fried up the paste with a good glug of oil, added some stock and coconut milk, tossed in the tofu that I had fried earlier this afternoon and some cuttlefish balls. I also poached some chicken drumsticks at the same time and picked the meat to be served with the noodles.

Finally, all that was left to do was boil the noodles and blanch some bean sprouts, put them in a bowl, ladle the curry over and add the garnishing. The cucumber does a good job of cutting through the richness and spiciness of the curry. And I love the deep-fried tofu that was chewy on the outside and soft and silky on the inside. Yum!

Hot Cross Pudding


As I was mentioning in my previous post, we had a lot of bread in the pantry, and some have now made it to the fridge. I wanted to use up the hot cross buns as nobody seemed to be eating them after the first day we bought them. The first thing that came to my mind was bread pudding. Quick, easy and makes a great dessert or late night snack. And you can make them with anything. I've tried using plain bread, raisin toast, croissants, pannetone...and they all taste great. And you can throw in any kind of fruit, flavouring, chocolate, butterscotch etc and you can't go wrong. The one I made here has a beautiful creamy and buttery flavour with a hint of spice, and a delightfully sweet and crunchy crust from the demerara sugar crystals and toasted almond flakes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Purple Sweet Potato Bread

Soft and spongy buns made with purple sweet potatoes

I've made pizza and naan before, but never plain bread or buns. I had bought a piece of purple sweet potato over the weekend (it's actually labelled as "white sweet potato" because the skin is white, but when you cut through it, it's purple inside), with the intention of making a chiffon cake with it. But then I came across a recipe for Japanese sweet potato bread in one of my cookbooks and was taken in by the picture of the lovely soft-looking buns. Moreover, I had an unused packet of bread flour that had been sitting on the top-most shelf of my larder for the past one year, which fortunately had not exceeded its shelf-life yet. So I thought why not try making bread this time, since my mum tells me all the time that making bread is easy!

Sprinkled the tops with black sesame seeds and rainbow sprinkles (for the kids)

The reason why I never got around to baking bread is because it seems like a long process of kneading, waiting for the dough to rise, kneading again, proving the dough.... I only have a tiny window of opportunity while little J is taking his nap to do any cooking or baking. Moreover, I find the process of making bread a little daunting when I watch TV chefs like Jamie Oliver casually slapping a kilo of dough on the counter, flour everywhere, kneading it with his big strong hands and arms - something I'm lacking terribly in. Of course, I could always use the electric mixer to do the work, which was what I did today. It wasn't as bad as I thought, and making bread is actually easier than baking cakes (okay, just based on this first experience) especially since everything just goes into one bowl, compared to cake-making which involves many steps of sifting flour, separating eggs, creaming butter, cutting out greaseproof paper to the exact size, etc. The only thing is that I baked enough bread to last the next few days, and I still have a pack of hot cross buns and white sandwich bread in the pantry. I might have to consider freezing some of these breads, otherwise I'll have bread coming out of my ears!

The purple sweet potatoes give the buns a natural lavender-like hue

I must say it is rather gratifying to watch the dough rise and double in size because you know that you're doing something right! The sweet potatoes that I used weren't exactly very sweet. They were mild in flavour, and I guess they were there more for colour and texture than anything else. I would have preferred the bread to be sweeter though, but it still tasted great with butter sandwiched in between. The recipe uses an overnight sponge dough (which I made last night), resulting in a soft and sponge-like texture. The kids enjoyed eating it (with lashings of butter), but of course, how can they pass up on anything with colourful sprinkles on it? :)

Here is the recipe, adapted from Alex Goh:

Japanese Sweet Potato Bread


300g bread flour
35g sugar  (or a little more if the potatoes are not very sweet)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

60g overnight sponge dough (see below for recipe)

145ml cold water
30g egg (roughly 3/4 of a large egg)

120g sweet potatoes, cubed, steamed and finely mashed with fork
30g butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds for sprinkling


1. Mix ingredients A until well-blended. Add in ingredients B and ingredients C, knead to form a dough.

2. Add in ingredients D, continue to knead to form a smooth and elastic dough.

3. Mould the dough round, place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Place in a warm place to allow it to proof for 45 min.

4. Punch the dough down (to release excess carbon dioxide from the yeast) and knead briefly. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and mould it round by tucking it in at the bottom. Place 4 pieces into a greased loaf tin or round 20cm cake tin. Place the rest of the pieces in another tin. Space the pieces about 2 inches apart to allow room to rise.

5. Let it proof for 50-60 min or until its size doubles. Brush with eggwash and sprinkle over with sesame seeds.

6. Preheat oven to 180C and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and turn the loaves onto a wire rack to cool.

Overnight Sponge Dough

100g bread flour
60ml water at room temperature)
1/4 tsp instant yeast


Mix the instant yeast with 20ml water until dissolved. Add in the rest of the ingredients and knead to form a dough. Let it proof for 30 minutes. Cover with clingwrap and keep in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours.

These are actually called white sweet potatoes, white outside but purple on the inside

Friday, March 25, 2011

Grilled Lamb Steak with Honey Dijon Balsamic Glaze

Grilled rosemary lamb steaks with a sweet honey and dijon balsamic glaze,
served on a bed of sweet potato puree and a side of baby peas

It has been a while since I last cooked lamb. Although it is one of my favourite meats to eat, it's not one of my favourites to cook, particularly if I have to grill them in the pan.Whenever I decide to make lamb cutlets or steaks for dinner, I have to prepare myself for the intensive clean-up after that. Because the lamb has a substantial amount of fat (one of the reasons they taste so darn good however you cook it), when you sear or fry it in the pan/skillet, oil tends to spit and splatter in every direction. I usually take a good handful of old newspapers and spread them out over the floor and countertop. And then, I'd don my trusty apron (which would have been more effective if they came with long sleeves), stand about a metre away from the stove and extend my arms as far as I could, holding the longest pair of tongs I could find to turn those steaks. These steaks are really good, but the experience could have been better if my clothes and hair didn't smell like my dinner. Not only that, but for the next few hours up until the next morning, the kitchen and rest of the house would smell of grilled lamb.

That said, the lamb was delicious served with sweet potato puree and baby peas (which was all I had at the time). I used the reserved marinade and cooked it down with a little water and sugar to make a glaze to pour over the steaks. This was after weeks of watching My Kitchen Rules and one of the judges, Manu Feidel, kept harping on the need for some sort of sauce in the dishes to bring everything together. Well, I guess the French really love their sauces. But I must say the steaks do taste fantastic with the glaze. If not for the glaze, I would have had the lamb with some mint sauce instead.

Alright now, enough ranting, here is the recipe:

Grilled Lamb Steak with Honey Dijon Balsamic Glaze


500g lamb cutlets or rump steaks

1 tbsp chopped rosemary
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp honey
Salt and black pepper


Combine the lamb with the marinade and leave in fridge for 3-4 hours.
Heat a grill pan/skillet and fry the lamb on medium-high heat, turning once or twice after about 4 minutes on each side until caramelized and done to your liking. Remove and set the meat aside to rest for 8-10 minutes before serving.

To make the glaze, place the remainder marinade in the pan with 1/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste). Bring to a boil and reduce to a thick glaze. Taste for seasoning. Pour glaze over the lamb steaks and serve with your favourite sides.

To make the sweet potato mash, peel and cut potatoes into large chunks. Place in a pot of water with a little salt and bring to a boil, uncovered. When potatoes are tender and soft, trasnfer to a bowl and mash/puree finely. Add some butter and a little hot milk and mix through until soft and creamy. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Galette des Rois

Galette des rois ("King Cake") - a traditonal French cake

This delicious French pastry filled with almond cream has a bit of history linked to it.

The French tradition of serving a frangipane filled tart known as the ’galette des rois’ (or the ’gateau des rois’ in the South of France) on, or around the 6th January, (the first Sunday of each New Year) actually dates back to the 14th century.

The festival takes place around Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, when the wise men visited baby Jesus. According to tradition, the ‘galette des rois’, was to "draw the kings" to the Epiphany. It goes rather well with a cup of tea or a glass or two of white wine. It is traditionally divided into enough portions for all the people present plus one more for the first poor person that passes by. A lucky charm (une fève - originally a bean but now more often a plastic trinket) is baked inside the galette, and whoever receives the fève is crowned king or queen for the day. 

Source: P-O Life

A lovely almond cream filling encased in thin, crisp and buttery layers of pastry

If you're using ready-made frozen puff pastry, then making this is really easy. The filling is basically made from almond meal, butter, sugar and eggs. The recipe I used is from a cookbook by Raymond Blanc, in which he adds a little rum or cognac to the almond cream. I wanted to make sure the kids could eat this too, so I omitted the alcohol but added a few drops of rosewater instead, which makes a beautiful combination. This galette is best served warm when the pastry is still crisp, but also tastes great at room temperature. Otherwise, just pop it in a warm oven for a few minutes before serving.

Score the pastry with whatever designs you fancy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mock Fried Carrot Cake ("Chai Tow Kuay")

That's not really fried carrot cake, or "Chai Tow Kuay" as it is called in Malaysia/Singapore. In the first place, there isn't even any radish (daikon) in this dish. And there are no cubes of steamed carrot cake in it either. It was a hasty decision to make something similar to satisfy my craving after coming across delectable-looking photos of this dish in my cousin's blog. I had no radish on hand, but at least I had the other ingredients available.

So I combined some rice flour and a little cornflour with water to make a watery batter, and seasoned it with pepper, sugar and soy sauce. I heated sufficient oil in a large frying pan, poured in the batter and let it sizzle for a while, and when almost set, I cracked 2 eggs over it and mixed it around. Then I cut it up with the spatula, continued frying both sides till crisp, moved it aside and fried some chopped garlic and preserved turnip. Then just combine everything and season with fish sauce, sugar, pepper and thick dark soy (I also added a little kecap manis). Sprinkle some chopped spring onions and my lazyman's carrot cake is ready!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prawn Crackers with Sticky Chilli Caramel ("Keropok Pedas")

Prawn crackers with sweet, spicy and sticky chilli's hot hot hot!

I bought a packet of Indonesian raw prawn crackers last weekend and decided to fry them today, as a treat for the kids. Well, they deserve some unhealthy deep-fried snacks once in a while, and I loved eating these as a kid, so I wanted them to enjoy the same things I did! Of course, minus the chilli, for the next few years at least.

I decided to make a sweet and spicy chilli caramel to coat the crackers with. In Malaysia, you will often find chilli coated tapioca chips, but I've also tried the fish cracker version before (courtesy of my sister's friend) and it was delish! As I could only find prawn crackers at the asian grocery store, I figured that would do just as well.

So here's how I made the chilli caramel:


3-5 long red chillies, roughly chopped in a blender
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp golden syrup (optional)
1 tsp Lingham's chilli sauce (optional)
A little tamarind paste mixed with 2 tbsp water, sieved
1/2 tsp salt or to taste (I may have used more)


Pour a little oil in a pan, just enough to coat it. On med-high heat, fry the chillies, then add sugar, syrup, chilli sauce and tamarind paste. Bring caramel to a boil, stirring frequently until it turns thick and sticky. Taste and check for seasoning. Then dip each cracker into the caramel and leave to cool on a plate before storing in an air-tight container.

Note: If you have leftover caramel, you can also use it on tortilla chips,  peanuts, cashews, toasted pita bread, ciabatta, baguette etc. Slice and grill the bread, then coat the crust with some of the chilli caramel. Yummms....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Black Hokkien Mee v2.0

I know I've posted a recipe for this before in the past, but Hokkien Mee is one of those things that never always taste the same each time I make it. And the one I made today tasted almost perfect! This time, I fried some pork fat and used the lard to fry the noodles. I also added a little oyster sauce and chinese cooking wine. Another thing to note is that it's better to let the noodles braise for an adequate amount of time so that they release the starch, soften and absorb the flavours in the dish. If you let it sit for a while after it's cooked, the gravy will thicken a little more and coat the noodles beautifully.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Crispy Pan-Fried Eggs

This is actually based on a Kylie Kwong recipe called Mrs Jang's Homestyle Fried Eggs. It's one of my favourite supplements to a meal when I need something super fast and easy. The original recipe calls for the eggs to be deep-fried in a wok, but I prefer to just pan-fry mine in a little less oil than that. The eggs are browned and crisp along the edges and all over the bottom, and the yolks still soft and liquid. Combine that with the sweet-salty flavours of the oyster sauce and the heat from the chillies, it's totally addictive and it's hard to stop at just one egg. I could eat a few of those with steamed white rice and that would be my meal.

If you've never tried these, you should! Here's the recipe, adapted from Kylie Kwong:


1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used about 1/2 cup using a frying pan instead)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
Dash of ground white pepper
2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
1-2 red bird's eye chillies, finely sliced


Heat oil in a hot wok (or pan) until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, then pour into the hot oil. After 2 minutes, reduce heat to allow the bottom of the eggs to become firm and crisp; the yolks should still be runny at this point.

Carefully slide a fish slice under the eggs, lift out of wok/pan and pour off oil. Return eggs to wok/pan and place back over the heat for another 1-2 minutes to crisp  further. The yolks should remain slightly runny.

Gently remove eggs from wok/pan and drain off any excess oil before easing onto a plate. Drizzle eggs with oyster sauce and garnish with pepper, spring onions and chillies.

Purple Yam Talam (Sweet Coconut Rice Cake)

Beautful purple tinge from the yam

I had some frozen purple yam in the freezer and I had already used one for making yam chiffon a few weeks ago. Not wanting to attempt that again so soon (still getting over it), I decided to make yam talam instead. I found a recipe by Amy Beh and gave it a go. At first, I was a little hesitant about the ingredients used for the top white layer as it called for tapioca starch, which is not used in the usual pandan kuih talam recipe. Good thing I decided to stick to the recipe, because although the top layer was slightly chewy as a result of the tapioca starch, it was a wonderful contrast against the texture of the bottom layer, which predominantly comprised of mashed yam, rice flour and coconut milk. And I love the saltiness of the top coconut layer which balances nicely against the mellow sweetness of the yam. Kuih talam is always so addictive, and I think it's the salty coconut layer that makes it so! Not good for the waistline and heart, but a little bit (or a little more once in a long while) wouldn't hurt! :)

The top coconut layer is chewy and springy, which contrasts well against the bottom layer
made from mashed yam, rice flour and coconut milk

All mashed up - Love the vibrant purple hue of the yam

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deep-fried Cornflake Chicken Schnitzel

Quick and easy food for both kids and grown-ups. Take some chicken breast fillets, escalloped. Then flatten them out with a meat mallet and marinate with chopped garlic, light soy sauce, sugar and mirin. Before frying, dredge them in flour, dip in beaten egg, and coat in crushed cornflakes. Then deep fry (or shallow fry works too) until golden brown. Serve hot! Yum!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Classic Flourless Orange and Almond Cake

Orange and almond cake, brushed with an apricot glaze

This is a lovely cake, which I found is best eaten cold 1-2 days later. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 1 week. Here is the recipe, adapted from Belinda Jeffery's cookbook, which is actually based on Claudia Roden's "A Book of Middle Eastern Food".

Classic Flourless Orange and Almond Cake


2 large navel oranges
250g almond meal
250g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs

3/4 cup apricot jam
2 tbsp water
Blanched almonds / Almond flakes


  1. Place oranges in a large pot of boiling water and boil for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until soft enough for a skewer to go through with ease. Top up the water from time to time so as to keep the oranges fully submerged. Spin the oranges around occasionally so that they cook evenly. When ready, drain and leave to cool. Chop them coarsely, skin and all and puree finely in a food processor.
  2. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line base and sides of a 22cm round cake tin with buttered baking paper. Dust the tin lightly with flour (or almond meal) and set aside.
  3. Whisk the almond meal, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl for half a minute or so.
  4. Using an electric mixer, whisk/beat the eggs on medium-high speed for about 6 minutes until light and fluffy. Turn off the mixer. Pour the orange puree and almond mixture into the eggs. Mix on low speed until just combined. Pour into prepared tin.
  5. Bake for 1 hour or until the top of the cake is just firm when pressed gently. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack. Once cool, invert the cake onto a serving plate and remove paper. Pour the apricot glaze over the cake and brush it all over evenly. You can coat the almonds in the glaze and decorate the cake with them.
  6. To make the glaze, boil the jam with 2 tbsp water for about 5 minutes until it becomes thick and syrupy. Pass it through a sieve and it's ready for glazing.
The texture is somewhere between a cake and a pudding, moist with a bittersweet orange tang

Navel oranges that have been boiled until soft, and then pureed finely. These are combined
with eggs, almond meal,baking powder and sugar. No butter or oil!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Braised Black Pepper Pork Ribs

My freezer was accumulating too much stuff, like tubs of ice-cream, leftover coconut milk, boxes of frozen nuggets, frozen fish balls, frozen meats and a few suspicious looking items tied up in little plastic bags. I decided to use up the frozen pork rib that I had, and wanted to cook something rich and peppery. So I marinated the pork and braised it in black pepper sauce, ground bean sauce and tomato sauce. The pork turned out really tender, with a rich saucy, garlicky, peppery and tangy gravy.

Braised Black Pepper Pork Ribs Recipe


600g pork rib, chopped into 1 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp thick dark soy sauce
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine
Dash of white pepper
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp cornflour

Sauce ingredients:
1 tbsp ground bean sauce
1 1/2 tbsp LKK black pepper sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup water


  1. Combine pork with marinade and leave in fridge for 3-4 hours.
  2. Heat up some oil in a pot and fy the garlic until browned. Remove and put aside.
  3. Dust the pork with plain flour and fry in the remaining oil in the pot (add more oil if necessary). Brown the meat all over.
  4. Add in the browned garlic and sauce ingredients, stir, scraping off the bits at the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 1-2 hours until tender and gravy is thick. Dish out and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Quick & Easy Lemon Sponge

I saw a recipe for a quick and easy sponge cake in this month's issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and I was tempted to try it out because it's called "Three-minute sponge with jam and cream". Sounds like a real breeze, and I told G excitedly that I was going to make it on Sunday afternoon, because it only takes 3 minutes! He shook his head and said I was probably going to take 3 hours instead. So, I didn't make it that afternoon, but I did try it out yesterday after lunch. The recipe says "Prep time: 5 minutes". Yeah, right...just greasing, cutting out the baking paper and lining the tins alone took 5 minutes! All in all, I took about 20 minutes to get everything ready and into the oven. I suppose it is an easy recipe because you just have to put everything together in a mixing bowl and whisk it for 3 minutes. Easier than the typical sponge recipe. The cake turned out pretty good, and I like the lemon zest in it that brings a freshness to the flavour. G and H both loved it, so it must be yummy! :)

Click here for the video.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oyster Omelette ("Or Chien")

Today, we decided to splurge a little and bought some rock oysters to make oyster omelette, or "Or Chien", as commonly known in Malaysia. The last time I made this was about three years ago, and it was pretty successful for a first attempt. It's not a difficult dish to make, only that you need to have some plump and juicy fresh oysters and nothing can really go wrong, except that I FORGOT to add oil to the pan before I poured in the batter! I only realised it when I poured the egg over the batter and found that the omelette was sort of stuck to the pan, and no sizzling! Well, never too late to add oil, and I managed to save the dish. Phew! It turned out tasting pretty close to the real thing, especially with the chilli sauce that I made that afternoon. I could have left the omelette to fry a little longer, to crisp it up a bit more. It's a wonderful combination of textures - crispy, gooey, chewy, creamy (from the oysters). It's one of my favourite hawker dishes!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Simple Vanilla and Marble Cupcakes

This is based on a fantastic cupcake recipe from Exclusively Food. I couldn't stop myself at just one cupcake, so I had two! Who says cupcakes are for kids? (The kids mostly just ate the icing and sugared flowers, leaving the soft, fluffy, moist and buttery cake for me!).

Well, that was yesterday. This morning I tried the marble cupcakes, and they tasted even better than plain vanilla ones! Both taste good, although next time, I might use unsalted/reduced salt butter instead of regular salted butter, so as to let the natural sweetness of butter shine through. To make marbled cupcakes using the above recipe, just divide the batter into two portions and fold through about a tablespoon of baking cocoa to one portion. Then place a dollop of each batter into the cupcake case and swirl lightly with a skewer or knife.

The kids love the dainty little sugared flowers

Z wanted chocolate cupcakes, so I compromised by making a choc-vanilla marble cupcake

Z's partially eaten vanilla cupcake with multi-coloured sprinkles

Wonderfully moist, soft and fluffy buttery vanilla cupcakes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken and Roasted Pepper Tortilla Soup

I came across a recipe for chicken and roasted pepper soup in an Italian cookbook and knew that I had to make it, because I love red peppers! I added a few extras in the soup, like chorizo, carrots, and crispy fried tortilla strips, just to soup it up a little (pardon the pun). Sweet and juicy red peppers that have been roasted and caramelized in the oven lift the flavours in this dish. And the strips of fried tortilla maintain their crunch even after soaking in the soup for a while. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve with some hot crusty bread, it's mmmm....yum yum! Tastes even better the next day!

This is an easy one to prepare, and makes a simple and nutricious meal that won't fill you up too much. Here's the recipe:

Chicken and Roasted Pepper Tortilla Soup Recipe


1 kg chicken thigh / drumsticks
1 spanish onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 red peppers (about 500g)
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 chorizo, sliced
2 cups chicken stock (I used Campbell's Reduced Salt chicken stock)
1 cup water
Salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying
Handful of basil leaves, torn
Handful of parsley, chopped

3 pieces of tortilla, cut into thin strips and fried in olive oil until brown and crisp
Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 210C. Place the whole red peppers in a baking dish and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until the skin is evenly blistered all over. Remove from oven, seal in a plastic bag and let cool before peeling. Scrape off the seeds and slice into thin strips.
  2. Heat up some olive oil in a pan and add the onions, garlic and chorizo. Fry until onion softens, then add the chicken. Brown the chicken all over, then add carrots, chicken stock and water. Simmer gently and poach the chicken for about half hour or until cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Add the red peppers, basil and parsley. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and debone. Roughly shred/tear the meat and return it to the pan. To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and garnish with fried tortilla strips. Best eaten with hot buttered crusty bread.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Green Tea Cake with Black Sesame Cream

This is basically a sponge cake with finely ground green tea leaves incorporated in the batter. I love the aroma of the green tea in this cake, and as the recipe uses neither butter nor oil, it seemed a little too healthy for me. So I whipped some cream and folded in a black sesame paste that I made by grinding some toasted black sesame using a mortar and pestle, and then mixing some butter and icing sugar into it. This cake is light and subtly sweet with a toasty flavour.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fried Mee Suah

Fried Mee Suah with belacan, curry powder, chillies, dried shrimp, cuttlefish ball, diced
chicken, bean sprouts, carrot and red pepper

Prior to stir-frying the mee suah, it needs to be deep-fried first till golden brown, drained, and then blanched in boiling water until softened, or al dente depending on your preference. Remove, drain and put aside. This can then be stir-fried like regular noodles. Just prepare the base with garlic, stock, seasoning, meat, vegetables etc and then toss the noodles in the mixture until cooked and well combined. Stir in some scrambled eggs, and once cooked, transfer to a dish and garnish with fried shallots and a wedge of lime if desired.

No Frills No Greens Mee Suah for the kids - fried with ground bean paste, chicken stock,
light soy with chicken, cuttlefish balls and egg

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Taro / Yam Chiffon: A Series of Unfortunate Events

I haven't had a kitchen disaster in a long while, not since the time I made three swiss rolls in one afternoon, and still they didn't turn out the way I wanted them to. This time, I attempted to make a purple yam chiffon cake, after my quite successful attempt at durian chiffon, I figured this shouldn't be too difficult. I'm always amazed at how TV chefs manage to whip up 3-4 dishes within half an hour (or actually, 20 minutes). They make it look sooooo easy. I wanted to do the same and get my chiffon done in record time. After all, I only need to combine a few ingredients in a bowl for the egg yolk batter, and let the mixer do the work in whisking the egg whites. Minimal effort, or so it seemed. However, such ideal conditions are non-existent within the confined space of my little kitchen.

Here's an account of what happened:

1 minute: Print recipe.
2 minutes: Get the mixer out of the box.
2 minutes: Read the recipe carefully and get the chiffon tin out.
15 minutes: Take the frozen yam out of the freezer and attempt to thaw and separate the ice-cold and hard pieces to get the required quantity. Microwave repeatedly until yam is soft and mashable with a fork.
8 minutes: Leave yam to cool in a bowl of water while separating the egg yolks from the whites.
7 minutes: Look for plain flour. Realised I didn't have enough! Supplemented with a few tablespoons of cornflour so that it becomes cake flour instead. Sifted the flour twice.
2 minutes: Look for canned coconut milk and a can opener. Shake and open the can.
3 minutes: Weigh 2 batches of caster sugar. Look for bowl to place it in.
1 minute: Heat up the oven and remove redundant baking trays.
3 minutes: Add all ingredients including yam into the egg yolk batter.
9 minutes: Realised that the yam which had cooled down seemed a bit lumpy in the batter. So I pushed it through a sieve a few times, and squished a few lumps between my fingerse. Looks better now.
9 minutes: Wanted to add purple colouring. Mixed some blue and red food colouring but after many attempts, I just couldn't achieve that pastel lavender hue I was after. Added more blue and it started looking gray instead. In the end, I added a drop of pink food colouring. Do I really care at this point?
5 minutes: Start the mixer and whisk the egg whites. A breeze.
5 minutes: Combine egg yolk batter with egg white mixture. Pour into chiffon tin and place in oven.
30 minutes: Chiffon is baking in the oven. Top seems to have cracked but is lightly brown. I hope the middle is cooked.
5 minutes: Crack is getting bigger by the minute. Seems like a good idea to remove it from the oven. Anyway recipe says bake for 30-40 minutes.
2 minutes: Overturned the cake tin onto the table to cool.
5 minutes: The cracked top of the cake got totally dislodged and fell onto the table. That's 1/3 of the cake gone. Tasted it and the cake did not seem to be totally cooked. Felt squishy between my fingers.
1 minute: Tossed the dislodged cake-top over the rest of the cake in the tin and baked it again for another 5 minutes. 5 minutes, later, decided to throw away the top and bake whatever's left in the tin.
10 minutes: Continued baking the cake. Removed and inverted the tin onto a large plate to cool.
2 minutes: The whole cake slipped off the tin and landed flat on the plate.
30 minutes: Cake is still cooling on the plate and looks like it has shrunk to half the height I was hoping it to be.
5 minutes: Cut a slice of cake to try. Wasn't too bad, although the outer part of the cake was a little dry, but still edible.
2 hours: Tried eating more of the cake to convince myself that it's not that bad.
1 day: Still trying to convince myself that it's not that bad. And actually, it tasted pretty good. It just didn't look so pretty.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Everybody's Favourite Braised Pork Belly in Dark Soy

Always a hit with the kids and adults. Great with steamed white rice or congee.
The blacker it is, the better!

Here is a simple recipe for one of our favourite comfort foods:

Braised Pork Belly


600g pork belly, cut into 2cm width
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4cm cinnamon stick
3 cloves
Half star anise (about 3 segments)
1 scallion (spring onion)
2 tbsp thick dark soy sauce ("Cheong Chan Cooking Caramel")
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1-2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar / palm sugar / Gula Melaka syrup
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
4 hard boiled eggs


Heat up 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil in a pot and fry garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the pork, dark soy sauce and 2 tbsp sugar, and fry for 5 minutes or until meat is browned. Add scallion, light soy sauce and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until meat is tender and gravy reduced slightly. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Add hard boiled eggs and simmer for 10 minutes until egg is coated in the sauce. Don't overcook the eggs. Turn off heat and transfer to a serving dish. Serve with steamed jasmine rice or congee.