Saturday, July 22, 2017

22 Jul 17 (Sat) - Jalapeno Poppers

Had some leftover cream cheese, want to use it up but didn't want to make desserts with it so searched the Internet for savory recipes that make use of cream cheese. Saw a few but this Jalapeno Poppers recipe on Food Network caught my attention because of its simplicity. Followed the steps in the recipe with a little modification. Instead of the regular streaky bacon, I used back bacon which is wider in size compared to regular streaky bacon and then I halved each slide length-wise. Instead of just wrapping the cream cheese-filled jalapeno in the middle, I wrapped the whole thing for some halves, covering the cream cheese.


Popped them into the oven and set them to bake at 140 degree Celsius for 1 hour and 15 minutes as stated. Fortunately, I checked on them on and off and quickly turned off the oven after 1 hour because the bacon was starting to char on the edges. The recipe actually asked for 135 degree Celsius but my oven doesn't do interval of 5 so guessed that was why the bacon started to char after 1 hour.


These jalapeno poppers tasted great and really easy to make. Ideal as quick bites for parties.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

9 Jul 17 (Sun) - Butter Cookies

Itching to bake something but tired of baking butter cakes so googled for ideas and decided to bake some cookies. Didn't have any experience in baking cookies before so googled for a basic cookie recipes. Found this butter cookies recipe by Nasi Lemak Lover that looked easy enough. Got down to it and as I went along, the process got messy because when I mixed the butter and icing sugar using a hand-held mixer, some of the icing sugar flew out. And when I added the flour to the mixture, it got even messier because some of the flour and bits of the butter mixture flew out. Made some modifications to the basic recipe by adding chopped dried cranberries and ground Brazilian nuts. Mixing the ingredients was not the worse part. Attempted to use cling wrap to create a pipping bag and using the icing nozzle to pipe the soft dough onto the baking tray and the cling wrap gave way because I was squeezing too hard for the dough to come out of the nozzle. In the end, I had to use my hands to roll the dough into small balls and flattened them on the baking tray. The dough was supposed to make about 30 pieces of cookies but I ended up with 50 pieces. Must be due to my poor estimation of the size per cookie. 


Once I was finished with all the dough, I quickly put the tray into the preheated oven and set it to bake for 13 minutes. Soon the time was up, some of the cookies didn't seem to be brown enough so I added another two minutes. Bad decision because those that were golden brown earlier were now of darker shade. The cookies smelled nice, however, those that were of darker brown tasted a bit bitter because I had over baked them. Should have just stopped at 13 minutes and left them in the oven to brown slowly. So a rather crude attempt at baking butter cookies.


Butter Cookies (adapted from Nasi Lemak Lover)

Ingredients:
100g butter, soften
30g icing sugar
90g plain flour
30g corn flour
1.5 tbsp dried cranberries, roughly chopped
2 heaped tsp ground Brazilian nuts

Method:
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree celsius
2.  Beat butter and icing sugar till creamy.
3.  Sift plain flour and corn flour together.
4.  Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and mix well to a soft dough
5.  Add cranberries and ground brazilian nuts to the mixture and mix well
6.  Take some dough, roll into a ball and flatten onto baking tray (size about 50 cents coin)
7.  Repeat step 6 until the dough is finished
8.  Bake for 13 minutes or until golden brown

Sunday, July 2, 2017

2 Jul 17 (Sun) - Castella Cake

Recently my sister was telling me how there is this new bakery shop from Taiwan called "Le Castella" at the basement of Tampines One is making headlines on food blogs and newspapers. She said there is always a snaking queue early in the morning even before the shop opens for business. Googled a little and found out that the shop sells castella cake, which is a type of Japanese sponge cake that is moist and bouncy on the inside.

Last Saturday, we went to the shop at 10:30am to try our luck but there was already about 15 people in the queue. We learnt that even though the people were in the queue, the collection could happen in the late afternoon. So we gave up the idea and sis said she may try again on a weekday after the school reopens.

So last Thursday, she went to queue since 10:30am, second one in the queue and she finally managed to get two original flavour cakes after 30 minutes. Her verdict: "古早味蛋糕 so-so, nice but nothing fantastic. Smell good when hot, not very sweet and as fluffy and soft as steamed sponge cake. Maybe because it's baked. Don't think will go back for second round..." Read some other reviews from famous local bloggers and their verdicts were kind of similar - original a bit bland with eggy aftertaste, recommend to try the cakes only after the hype dies down.

The following day, my sister tagged me in a Facebook post with a video that shows how to make castella cake. Watched the video, copied the recipe and decided to give it a shot today. Didn't want to make big batch so reduced the amount of ingredients to that of one egg portion. Also replaced cake flour with plain flour as I didn't want to have too many types of flour sitting in my pantry. Was kind of worried how the cake might turn out as I have tried making Japanese cheesecake and it shrunk after coming out from the oven.

Followed the steps as closely as I can and had to wait for 50 minutes before I could see the result. The cake looked presentable, didn't shrink but didn't turn out to be as high and as jiggly as I had expected it to be. Texture-wise, it wasn't as smooth but fortunately, was soft. Taste-wise, a bit bland for my liking. Maybe a dash of vanilla essence will be nice for the cake.





Conclusion, can try again but with addition of vanilla essence and maybe slightly more sugar. And maybe, just maybe, can up the portion to two eggs instead.


Hehe... for the record, this is how small the cake was. =p

Sunday, May 28, 2017

28 May 17 (Sun) - Purple Sweet Potato Sherbet

Still on the purple sweet potato craze and had lots of ideas. However, was feeling a bit lazy so instead of using it to make steamed cake or ice cream, I decided to make sherbet instead.

It has strong sweet potato taste and a rough texture because of the mashed sweet potato. It also has a very nice purple hue too.


Ingredients:
128g purple sweet potato, mashed
240ml milk
65g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
pinch of salt

Method:
1.  Combine milk, sugar and purple sweet potato in sauce pan over med flame.
2.  Bring to full boil while whisking.
3.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 seconds.
4.  Remove from heat, add vanilla extract, cinnamon powder and salt then stir.
5.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.
6.  After mixture is cooled, transfer to the freezer and churn every 1 hour with a whisk.
7.  Repeat step (6) for 2-3 times before transferring to a container of your choice to freeze overnight.


Since I had leftover mashed purple sweet potato, I used it to cook rice for my lunch. Had durians for the past two days, so cooked some pear dessert to neutralize the "heaty" effect.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

10 May 17 (Wed - Vesak Day) - Grilled Salmon with Sweet Potato Rice

Went to the market and saw the vegetable stall selling bags of purple sweet potatoes. Very excited and bought a bag of three. Had lots of ideas on how to use them. Purple sweet potato ice cream; purple sweet potato steam cake; purple sweet potato paste and so on. However, due to time constrain and given that I may not have enough people to help me to finish up the food, I had to shelf the ideas for another time.

Been following Ellena Guan of Cuisine Paradise on Facebook for a while now and lately she has been posting her home-cooked food served with purple sweet potato rice. The pictures really look nice and colourful. So I decided to do something similar. Since I have salmon so grilled it to go with the rice and added shredded cucumber as sides. The final result of purple, pinkish orange and green seems nice enough to be picture-worthy. Hahahahaha....

Sunday, April 23, 2017

23 Apr 17 (Sun) - Lemon Curd and Trio Egg Spinach

Yesterday's attempt at Japanese Cheesecake was not very successful. So was looking forward to today's attempt at lemon curd and trio egg spinach. Have came across the words "lemon curd" many times, especially when I was browsing western desserts recipes, but never thought of attempting to make it until now. Search the Internet for recipes and finally decided to modify from the two that I had narrowed down: one by theKitchn and another by finecooking.

Used the recipe by finecooking and halved it but adopted the method of cooking from theKitchn. I realized that I had to work really fast towards the end when I had to strain the mixture before stirring in the butter because the mixture was starting to thicken as it cooled. The result was a smooth curd with nice yellow colour. Pour the finished product into a clean jam jar and left it aside to cool.


Then proceeded to cook the trio egg spinach. Had a craving for this dish after seeing it on a TV program recently. So search for a recipe and found one that was published in The New Paper. Followed the recipe but reduced the amount of spinach used. The end result? Think I should have added more chicken stock so that it can cover the spinach.


Done with the two dishes. Felt happy. So decided that it was time to do the taste test for the cheesecake from yesterday. Turned out to be quite nice, just that it didn't look nice. Texture-wise, not as smooth as it should be. Maybe because I substituted cake flour by mixing plain flour and cornflour and also because I did not fold the egg whites properly into the batter. Still, got to say that it was a good first attempt. The lemon curd was nice and tangy, and I ate it with another mini cheesecake. As for the trio egg spinach, it would be better if there was more gravy.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

22 Apr 17 (Sat) - Japanese Cheesecake

It had been a stressful few weeks and I really needed some cooking therapy. So researched  on what to cook or bake over this weekend. Saw a friend posted her Japanese cheesecake photos some time back and decided to pluck up my courage to give this cake a try.

Search the Internet for recipes and a few came up. So narrowed down to only three: one is by Dr Leslie Tay of ieat ishoot ipost, one is by Bee of Rasa Malaysia and another one by Nami of Just One Cookbook. Out of three recipes, the first two call for cream of tartar which I do not have. So in the end, I decided to adopt the recipe by Nami and halved the portion. Out of the list of ingredients, I do not have cake flour and heavy whipping cream, so use the substitutes as suggested by Nami.

Followed the steps as closely as possible and all seemed fine... until I was done beating the egg whites. I had underestimated the volume of beaten egg white that I would get with three egg whites. I started to panic and made worse when I was folding the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture. My mixing bowl was full to the brim. Did my best to fold the egg whites in and pour the batter into the cake tin. Alas! The cake tin was not enough to hold all of the batter. In the end, I had to use six cupcake cases to use up the rest of the batter.

Before putting into the oven, I already know that the cakes would not turn out well because I could see that the egg whites was not incorporated well into the mixture. Still, I got to see the whole process through, hence in the oven they went. The cupcake size ones rose nicely in the oven, however, the big one was lope-sided. Sigh...



Did the toothpick test and it came out clean. Left the cakes to cool in the oven as instructed in the recipe and then took them out much later. They all shrink to half the height. The big one had a darker top than the smaller ones. Guessed it was because it was nearer to the heat source. Put them all into the fridge to chill overnight. Too disappointed to do any taste test.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

25 Mar 17 (Sat) - Hot Mango Orange Ginger Smoothie

The mention of smoothie and the image of thick juice in a tall glass with water condensation on the outside will form immediately in our heads. So when I saw the title "Make a HOT smoothie for a change: Orange mango ginger, nice" while browsing through the MSN website, I couldn't resist but to click on it to find out more about this interesting recipe.

Since I have mangoes in my fridge, all I need to buy were oranges and ginger. Bought some in the morning and went on to try out the recipe. Before adding water, the mixture was really thick. Mix some with hot water and some with cold water. Both types were equally nice. Guess the hot one stood out a little because ginger tasted better in hot drink.

So who says smoothie has to be cold, hot one tastes nice too!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

19 Mar 17 (Sun) - Durian Fried Rice

I was told that the durian season started couple of weeks ago and my sis's family was feasting on durian that couple of weeks ago. Recently she sent me a link to this recipe called "Durian Fried Rice" by Ellena Guan of Cuisine Paradise. My first reaction was "Whut?!" and then didn't think much about it because I was busy at work. Last Friday was messaging her about my intention to get some durian from the stall near my house the next day and she resent me that link to the "Durian Fried Rice" recipe again.

Well, she managed to perk my interest. So clicked on the link to read the blog post and the recipe. Looked simple enough. Wrote the recipe on a piece of paper and listed the ingredients to buy on Saturday. Followed the recipe as close as I can but the end result was far from the picture I saw on the blog post. The picture showed the dish to be on the drier side and grains of rice didn't seem to be sticking together.


I can only think of two reasons why mine looks gooey:
1.   The rice was a bit soggy to begin with.
2.   I used too much durian. (I remember 3 seeds of durian but forgot should be 80g)


Tastewise... To be honest, I can't accept it totally. Perhaps with some adjustments such as reducing the amount of durian use and the addition of salt to make it more savoury, I may change my opinion of the dish.

In short, I still prefer to eat my durian fresh and whole. Heh.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

11 Mar 17 - Green Caviar

Read about the green caviar from an article found on the HerworldPlus website back in January. It is a more affordable kind of caviar because it does not hail from fish but is actually a type of seaweed. The article also mentioned that online purchase of this green caviar can be done through Meal Belly. So went to check out the website and sent them a private message through Facebook messenger to find out more about the delivery method.

After getting the replies from Meal Belly, I finally placed my order of a 20g pack for $4.60 (including $1 delivery fee) towards the end of February and received them this morning. There were instructions printed on the packaging telling the customers how to prepare the green caviar. Followed the instructions on a small amount which balloon to a lot after soaking. Used them on salad. It tasted salty so cannot have too much at a time.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

5 Mar 17 (Sun) - Passion Fruit Butter Cake

Since I have some fresh passion fruit juice left over from yesterday, decided to try to use it on a butter cake recipe. Turned out that the butter taste overpowered the passion fruit taste. So as a work around, made some passion fruit glaze using own estimation and brush on top of the cake to enhance the passion fruit taste.


Ingredients:
50g self-rising flour
50g butter - soften
50g castor sugar
                                                     1/3 tsp vanilla extract
                                                     15ml passion fruit juice
                                                     1 egg

Method:
1.  Line cake tin with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180 degree celsius
2.  Sift the flour and set aside
3.  Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk till off white color
4.  Add the egg and mix well
5.  Add vanilla extract and passion fruit juice then mix well
6.  Fold in the flour
7.  Pour the batter into the cake tin
8.  Bake for 20-30mins until risen and firm to touch
9.  Do the toothpick test, if the toothpick comes out clean, transfer the cakes to a wire rack and allow to cool
10.  Brush the passion fruit glaze on the top of the cake

The mango and passion fruit ice cream from yesterday turned out to be slightly icy. Guess it was due to the juice from the passion fruit. Taste-wise, it was a bit on the sour side instead of the usual sweet as expected from mango ice cream.

---------------- Edited on 8 Mar 2017 ----------------

Brought a tub of the ice cream to office for my usual group of tasters to try and received positive feedback. Most of the comments were that they like the tartness of the passion fruit in the otherwise sweet mango ice cream.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

4 Mar 17 (Sat) - Mango & Passion Fruit Ice Cream

Have wanted to make this ice cream for a very long time and finally got around to it. Used the improved mango ice cream recipe and make some modifications. This is also the first time I am making such a big portion of ice cream. Both the mango and passion fruit smell very nice, hopefully the ice cream will turn out equally nice.


Ingredients:
400ml whipping cream
450g diced mango
165g icing sugar
6 passion fruit
zest and juice of 1 lime

Method:
1.  Place diced mango in a blender and pulse 3-4 times
2.  Add whipping cream and 1/3 of the icing sugar then pulse 4-6 times
3.  Add another 1/3 of the icing sugar and zest and juice of a lime then pulse 3-4 times
4.  Add the remaining icing sugar and blend the mixture for about 15-20 seconds
5.  Pour mixture into a container of your choice and put into the freezer
6.  Remove from freezer after 3 hours to churn* with a fork
7.  Remove the pulp from the passion fruit and set aside
8.  Repeat step (6) for another time
9.  Add in the pulp from the passion fruit** and mix well 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
** Drain as much of the juice away as possible before adding