Monday, October 29, 2018

29 Oct 18 (Mon) - Teriyaki Salmon with Mashed Potato, Carrot & Pumpkin and Steamed Milk Custard

Worked from home today and got my cooking all planned out. Had some leftover mitarashi sauce from yesterday, added some minced garlic and shallot as well as a bit more light soy sauce and water to make it into a teriyaki marinate for the salmon. Bought a portion of pumpkin over the weekend and steamed it together with a potato and half a carrot. Kept most of the mashed pumpkin for further use and mixed the rest of it together with the mashed potato and carrot. Found that the colour was a bit too orangey, so added some boiled small broccoli florets while mixing some mayonnaise. Pan-fry the salmon in my happycall pan and set it on a blue serving plate because it was Monday and typically associated with blue. LOL.

Then went on to make steamed milk custard. Since I have a lot of dried blue pea flowers lying around, so used a handful to colour the milk blue by warming the milk with the flowers in a microwave oven. The milk didn't turn very blue so I had to stir the flowers using a fork and tried to squeeze the flowers just to extract the colour. Once the colour was to my satisfaction, followed my steamed milk custard recipe but sprinkled some black sesame powder over it before steaming.

Since I have put in effort today to cook and experimented with colours, I took some photos of my creations. It was during the photo-taking that it occurred to me that had the black sesame powder converged like the shape of the different continents, the steamed milk custard would have looked like a world map with the blue being the mass of water. Haha...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

28 Oct 18 (Sun) - Japanese Curry and Black Sesame Mitarashi Kushi Dango

Things have slowed down a little and I managed to find time again today to do some cooking. Nothing fanciful. Just some chicken Japanese curry and black sesame mitarashi kushi dango since I have ingredients lying around. I have attempted mitarashi kushi dango before, only this time round I added 1-1.5 tablespoon of black sesame powder to the dough.

Since Halloween is just a few days away, the black sesame mitarashi kushi dango seems like a good idea. Unfortunately, nothing scary to decorate the plate.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

30 Sep 18 (Sun) - Baked Orange Honey Salmon

It has been a busy year so far and not much time for serious or experimental cooking. Little big sis tagged me to a couple of FB posts few weeks ago, one on Grilled Chipotle-orange Salmon and another on Cilantro Lime Salmon. We wanted to give them a go but unfortunately, there simply wasn't any right time to try.

So today I finally found time to try the recipes out on my own. Looked through both of them, googled a few more and came up with my own version. Took some time to decorate the plate since it has been a long while since I put in effort to do cooking.

1 piece 340g salmon fillet
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
orange zest from 2 oranges
1 tbsp light soy sauce (optional)
salt and pepper
                   2 orange slices
                   2 tbsp honey
                   1/2-1 tbsp olive oil/butter
                   1/2 tsp ground ginger
                   corn starch for thickening

1.  Marinate salmon with salt and pepper and set aside.
2.  Preheat the oven to 190 degree Celsius.
3.  Combine orange juice, orange zest, honey, olive oil/butter, light soy sauce (if using), ground ginger in a sauce pan over medium heat.
4.  Stir constantly till well combined and smooth.
5.  Add corn starch to thicken the mixture.
6.  Line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
7.  Pour some sauce on the foil, place the salmon skin up on the foil and pour remaining sauce over it.
8.  Bake for 4 minutes and turn the salmon over.
9.  Spoon some sauce over it and place the orange slices on top of the salmon.
10. Bake for another 8-10 minutes.
For a job well-done, I rewarded myself with a glass of orange beer from Don Don Donki. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

27 May 18 (Sun) - Brown Sugar Peanut Ice Cream

Have not done any experimental cooking for a long while. Found a pack of brown sugar peanuts, which I bought from Okinawa last December, and a pack of fine brown sugar in the pantry. So decided to try my hands on making brown sugar (peanut) ice cream which I had tasted in Okinawa. 

Looked through the ice cream recipes that I have and came up with my own version. I had very high expectations of how it would turn out, unfortunate, it was not what I had in mind. The taste was great, texture was smooth but it was too soft. Remembered that I had searched the Internet about this issue before and I think it was due to the sugar level. I could have added a tad too much sugar to the ice cream mixture that caused the freezing point to be lower and hence the inability to freeze properly.

Oh well... guess I had to settle for brown sugar peanut milkshake instead. Nevertheless, I won't give up on this recipe just yet. Will fine-tune it and try again.

200ml whipping cream
100ml milk
150g brown sugar peanuts
50g fine brown sugar
1 tsp condense milk

1.  Pulse brown sugar peanuts in food processor into smaller bits
2.  Add milk to the processed brown sugar peanuts and set aside
3.  Whisk whipping cream till soft peak
4.  Add brown sugar peanuts mixture, fine brown sugar and condense milk to the whipping cream
5.  Mix till well combined
6.  Pour mixture into a container of your choice and put into the freezer
7.  Remove from freezer after 2 hours to churn* with a fork
8.  Repeat step (7) for 3-4 times before freezing it overnight

* Try to churn the mixture in a whisking manner to try to incorporate as much air into the mixture as possible

Sunday, January 21, 2018

21 Jan 18 (Sun) - Salted Egg Bittergourd and Durian Butter Cupcakes

Was tidying up my drawer of recipes last weekend when I saw a newspaper cutting on a recipe called "Salted egg white bittergourd". Recalled that I still had two salted eggs sitting in my fridge so went to Giant supermarket last Friday to get two mini bittergourds. As white bittergourd is hard to come by, I had to settle for the green ones.

Followed the recipe as closely as I could, however, I didn't know what is red finger chilli nor green bird's eye chilli so I replaced with three red chilli padi instead. And because I didn't have enough garlic, so I added a shallot. Was happily cooking and excited to see the whole dish coming together nicely. After I had assembled the dish on a serving plate, then I realised that I had forgotten to add a dash of ground white pepper at the end of the cooking. Oh well... Not sure how soft the bittergourd was supposed to be for the dish, mine still retained some crunchiness which I rather like. Taste-wise, fortunately, it still tasted good without the ground white pepper. Heh.

In the short write-up that accompanied the recipe, it was mentioned that the dish goes well with rice or porridge. Therefore, I cooked some brown rice porridge and added some seaweed that I bought from my last Okinawa trip to eat as lunch. What a healthy meal.

Still had some leftover durians in the fridge and decided to use them to bake durian butter cupcakes since the durians weren't of very good quality. The preparation was easy and very happy that the cupcakes turned out very well. A good start to the first bake of the year. Ate one while it was still warm together with a dollop of chilled durian and it was heavenly! My healthy meal was, therefore, spoiled by the unhealthy dessert. LOL.

Durian Butter Cupcakes (Makes 5)
58g self-rising flour
63g butter - soften
43g castor sugar
                                                     pinch of baking soda
                                                     63g durian flesh
                                                     1 egg

1.  Preheat oven to 160 degree celsius
2.  Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk till light and fluffy
3.  Add egg and beat thoroughly
4.  Stir in durian flesh
5.  Fold in self-rising flour and baking soda
6.  Fill cupcake cases till 2/3 full with cake batter
7.  Bake for 18 minutes or until cooked
8.  Do the toothpick test, if the toothpick comes out clean, transfer the cakes to a wire rack and allow to cool
9.  Serve cakes with dollops of chilled durian or eat them on their own

Sunday, January 14, 2018

14 Jan 18 (Sun) - Baked Marmite Chicken Wings, Steamed Chicken Thigh with Essence of Chicken and Kimchi Fried Brown Rice

Was given a small bottle of marmite few weeks ago and after seeing some posts of marmite chicken wings on a Facebook group, finally I decided to try my hands on the dish myself. Searched the Internet for the recipe and found one "Baked Marmite Chicken Wings" by Noob Cook. The difference between those on the FB group and the one by Noob Cook is that the former ones are done using an Airfryer while the latter one is baked in an oven. Given that I don't have an Airfryer, I have to make do with the oven-baked on. Followed the recipe closely and marinated the mid-joint chicken wings the day before. The mid-joint chicken wings turned out to be rather good, would have been even better if I had shortened the baking time slightly further than I already have.

Found a bottle of BRAND'S® essence of chicken and searched the Internet for a recipe on cooking chicken with it. Found two, one "Steamed Chicken in Chicken Essence" by Noob Cook and the other "Steam Herbal Chicken With BRAND’S® Chicken Essence" by Cuisine Paradise. Studied the two recipes and modified them to suit my cooking needs. I don't like to drink essence of chicken, however, it became more palatable after being cooked together with the chicken thigh and the herbs.

Steamed Chicken Thigh with Essence of Chicken
1 small chicken thigh
5g cordyceps flower, soaked
1/2 tbsp wolfberries, soaked
2-3 red dates, soaked and sliced

                   1 bottle essence of chicken
                   1/2 tbsp Chines hua diao wine
                   1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
                   1/2 tsp light soya sauce
                   1/2 tsp ginger powder

1.  Rinse the chicken thigh and pat-dry
2.  Combine the marinade and marinate the chicken thigh for at least 1 hour in the fridge
3.  Arrange the marinated chicken thigh, cordyceps flower, wolfberries and red dates on a plate
4.  Cover the plate with aluminium foil and steam for 30 mins

My brother-in-law passed me a box of kimchi, which he bought from a restaurant recommended by a friend, couple of weeks ago. The quality of this kimchi was much better than those found in the supermarket. Used some to try to cook fried brown rice. Taste-wise was rather good, however, the rice was slightly soggy. Till now, I still have problem cooking that perfect fried rice. Sigh...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

7 Jan 18 (Sun) - Matcha Ice Cream

Happy New Year! Haven't been posting for a while. Been really busy during last year end. To get the cooking engine started, I made something simple - ice cream. However, instead of the usual egg-less ice cream, I attempted the custard-base ice cream instead. Searched the Internet for basic custard-base ice cream recipes, found a few and modified them to become something of my own. The result was creamier than the egg-less one but required more churning. The matcha taste was strong and the chocolate rice enhanced the flavour.

200ml whipping cream
100ml fresh milk
2 egg yolks
75g white sugar
8g matcha powder
Generous amount of chocolate rice

1.  Prepare ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes and some water, then place another smaller bowl on top of the water and put a fine-mesh strainer inside. Set aside.
2.  In a small pot, simmer milk, sugar and matcha powder. Stir constantly till sugar dissolves. 
3.  In another bowl, whisk egg yolks.
4.  Whisk slowly but constantly some warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, then pour the mixture back into the small pot of milk mixture.
5.  Cook the mixture over med-low heat till it thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Stir constantly, scrapping the bottom and sides of the pot.
6.  Pour the mixture through the strainer onto the bowl in the ice bath. Scrape whatever is on the base of the strainer into the bowl and remove the strainer.
7.  Whisk the whipping cream till soft peak and stir into the egg-milk mixture.
8.  Cool the mixture completely, pour into a container of your choice and chill in the fridge overnight.
9.  Transfer the mixture from fridge to freezer and churn* with a fork every 2 hours.
10.  Churn for another 5-6 times and mix in the chocolate rice during the last churn.
11.  Freeze the ice cream overnight.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

31 Oct 17 - Halloween Bento! Sort of...

Well... had some leftover blue water which I didn't make into honey water yesterday and used that to cook rice. My oh my, the result was stunning! Cooked some celery, a capsicum egg and opened a can of chili tuna which I added some mixed peas. What a colourful combination to end the Halloween festival. Yay! Will be looking forward to Christmas next. Woohoo!

Cooking the rice using the blue pea flower water gives a uniform colour to the cooked rice.

Since a couple of my colleagues have no idea what blue pea flowers are so packed some to share with them tomorrow. Hope they will have fun playing with those as I did.

Monday, October 30, 2017

30 Oct 17 (Mon) - Eyeball Blue Pea Flower & Osmanthus Flower Jelly

It has been a crazy year so far and an insane two months. In the blink of an eye, October arrived and one of my favourite festivals is here! Halloween! Been some time since I made osmanthus jelly and to celebrate the festival as well as a treat to my colleagues at work, I decided to make some just in time for 31 October. I have made eyeball osmanthus jelly before back in mid-Oct 2014 and I remember my colleagues were not  in the mood to enjoy because we were still in the midst of a busy period.

So this year, I got smarter and planned my telecommute day very carefully at the beginning of the month just so that I can bring the jelly on the actual (Halloween) day. Wanted to do something slightly different this year so had been brain-storming for ideas. Saw some gardening friends posted their blue pea flower drinks on Facebook and an idea came to me. Why not turn the jelly into blue colour using blue pea flowers? It should add some spooky effect on top of the gory eyeballs.

So I asked for some blue pea flowers from one of my gardening friends and she happily gave me a handful last Tuesday. Tried using a few of the dried flowers to make drink and had a fun time playing with it. Do you know that the blue colour will turn into purple after you have added some lemon juice? Yep, I felt like Harry Potter in front of my colleague. Haha...

Finally came the day to make the jelly. Started off by making the eyeballs using canned longan, lingonberry jam and blueberries. Then went on to make the blue water using about 80 dried flowers to 2 liter of water. The result was an Electric Blue colour which I didn't think will work because the eyeballs won't be visible enough. So had to dilute it to get a lighter blue. And what do I do with the extra blue water? I used it to make honey drink. Yum!

Next was adding the osmanthus flowers and two slices of licorice root to the blue water, then boiled for a few minutes to let the flavour out. Once done, strained the liquid to remove the flowers and root. Then cook the jelly using the usual method. As I stirred the liquid, it slowly turned into greenish colour. Fascinating... Finally, assembled the eyeballs and jelly in the 3¼ oz plastic cups I bought from SKP. It was kind of plain so I added some chia seeds to the jelly at the very last minute. It was really exciting to see the final product take shape. Had to control myself not to tell my colleagues what I have prepared for them. Hopefully they will appreciate the jelly.

What are you looking at?

Oops! I dropped my eyeball!

Saw Ellena Guan of Cuisine Paradise posting her Halloween-theme spooky seafood bee hoon on Facebook and thought "How about blue colour rice?". Hahaha... Being lazy, I didn't prepare the blue water beforehand. I merely threw a few dried flowers into the rice cooker while it cooked the rice. The result wasn't as stunning as the bee hoon that Ellena has. Oh well... Maybe next time.

Happy Halloween!!!

Ingredients (Makes 35 cups):
35 longans
35 blueberries
some lingonberry jam*
5 tsp dried osmanthus flowers
2 slices licorice root
1900ml blue pea flower water^
20g konnyaku jelly power
420g sugar
1 tsp chia seeds, soaked
50 dried blue pea flowers
2 liter water

1.  Fill longan with some jam before inserting a blueberry into the opening (scrape off excess jam, if any) and set aside
2.  Bring 2 liter of water to a boil in a pot, lower heat, add blue pea flowers, stir and simmer for a few minutes to get the blue colour
3.  Strain the blue liquid, measure 1900ml of the liquid into a pot and bring it to a boil
4.  Add osmanthus flowers and licorice root, then simmer for roughly 5mins before removing from heat
5.  Strain the liquid, bring it to a boil then lower the heat
6.  Add konnyaku jelly powder and sugar. Stir until powder and sugar are fully dissolved then off the flame
7.  Place one "eyeball" into one plastic cup, spoon some chia seeds in then pour enough jelly solution to cover the eyeball
8.  Let the jelly cool down a bit in room temperature and chill in fridge till the jelly is set

* You can use any jam that is red in color
^ Make using 50 dried blue pea flowers with 2 liter of water

---------------- Edited on 31 Oct 2017 ----------------

Brought 34 cups of jelly to office. Man, they were heavy. Fortunately, feedback was good and a few were spooked by the eyeballs. Had a colleague who asked if the flavour was sour plum. Hrm... wonder if it was due to the blue pea flowers in large quantity that affected the osmanthus flowers taste. All in, glad that they enjoyed the jelly and a good laugh. Mission Spooky accomplished!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

15 Oct 17 (Sun) - Matcha Pound (Birthday) Cake

Tried to bake a matcha sponge cake earlier this month as a birthday cake for a friend. The cake didn't rise enough but I still went ahead to frost and decorate it with fresh strawberries. For the rest of the day, I was contemplating whether I should give the cake because obviously it was a failure, even though it was still edible. However, I got cold feet at the very last minute and didn't give the cake to her, just whatsapp her a photo of that cake.

For the rest of the day/month, she reminded me about the cake whenever she has the chance and I felt bad about it. So decided to make another matcha-flavoured cake for her since, at the same time, I needed some baking therapy as well after a crazy two weeks. Searched the Internet for a good recipe and an idea struck. Since I wasn't confident enough to attempt another sponge cake, I thought why not try a pound cake instead. Shouldn't be too far off from the butter cake that I'm quite good at baking now.

So searched and searched, read a few matcha pound cake recipes and decided to use the one by Japanese Cooking 101. Reduced the recipe amount to that of using one egg. Initially, I was still thinking if I could skip that extra yolk in the recipe but in the end, I still went ahead to follow the recipe. And because I didn't have cake flour, I had to DIY my own using a cake substitute guide I found on The Gracious Wife. And since this was a make or break attempt, I added a pinch of baking soda to make sure the cake would rise.

Put in a lot of effort by making sure that I got every step right, not cutting corners and so on. Underestimated the amount of batter that I would have before I started the process and went to prepare a 4" baking tin instead of the 5" one. So in the end, I used a 4" round cake tin and a small loaf pan for all the batter. The one in the loaf pan was baked through after 20 minutes, but the round cake tin one had to bake for 40 minutes.

The round cake managed to rise to an acceptable height so I went on to modified an old buttercream frosting that I had used before into a matcha-flavoured one while waiting for the cake to cool. It took me another 20-30 minutes to frost the cake and still it wasn't as smooth as those sold commercially. Sigh... Next was to decorate the cake and because I had a few ideas tucked away during the sponge cake attempt, I didn't have to spend a lot of time cracking my brain over it. As I had some frosting left, I half the other cake and sandwich it with the leftover frosting.

All in all, the cake looked nice and I probably give it a 51/100 mark. Taste-wise, I will have to wait for my friend to give me the feedback after she has eaten it. Packed the round cake into a proper box with a proper base and the other cake into a clear plastic box before putting everything into the fridge.

Match Pound Cake (adapted from Japanese Cooking 101)

1 egg, room temperature
1 yolk, room temperature
75g butter, room temperature
84g caster sugar
                   1 tbsp water
                   1 tbsp matcha powder
                    67g cake flour*
                    pinch of salt
* 58g plain flour + 9g corn flour

1.  Preheat the oven to 170 degree Celsius.
2.  Grease and line a 4.5" x 2.5" loaf pan and a 4" round cake tin.
3.  Mix egg, yolk and water in a bowl.
4.  Sift cake flour, Matcha powder and salt together in another bowl.
5.  Beat butter for 2 minutes then slowly add sugar in 3 batches while beating, until the mixture become light and fluffy.
6.  Slowly add in the egg mixture in 3 batches while mixing and until well combined.
7.  Fold in the flour mixture in 3 batches until well combined.
8.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tin, smoothen the surface and bake for 20 minutes and 40 minutes respectively.
9.  Cool slightly and remove the cakes from the pan and tin.
10.  Cool the cakes completely on a cooling rack.

Matcha Buttercream Frosting

30g butter, room temperature
50g icing sugar
                   3/4 tsp water
                   2 tsp matcha powder        

1.  Whisk all ingredients till smooth and creamy.

--------------- Edited on 16 Oct 2017 ----------------

Gave the cake to my friend and she was very happy. She even took a photo of herself (her hand) cutting the cake. Asked her to take a photo of the inside of the cake because I was curious. Hrm... the cake looked crumbly, wonder if the texture was supposed to be like that or because I substituted the cake flour and added baking soda. Taste-wise, her feedback was that the matcha taste was just nice, not to the extend of being bitter and she liked the brownie-like texture of the cake.