Thursday, March 31, 2011

Milk Tea Muffin (奶茶马芬)

In a bid to finish off some of my Lipton Forest Fruit teabags (no, they are not expired yet), I decided to give this recipe a try. I personally prefer the previous Coconut Peach Muffin to this Milk Tea Muffin, but still it is a refreshing taste if you are a tea-drinker like me. Try it with earl grey teabags, I think it is worth a good try.
Recipe adapted from taiwanese recipe book 《孟老师的100道小蛋糕》

4 teabags *
2 whole eggs
50g milk
120g fine sugar
100g oil
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

* Original recipe calls for using black tea, but you can use earl grey or any flavour of tea which you like. It is a matter of own preference.

1. Cut open the teabags to remove the tea powder, add it to the milk and stir it well. Let it stand for 10 min so that the milk tea mixture is well combined.

2. Using an egg beater, beat the eggs and fine sugar together in a big mixing bowl, then add in oil and mix well.

3. Add in the milk tea mixture and mix well.

4. Sieve the flour and baking powder. Add sieved ingredients into the mixture in (3) and mix it gently using the rubber spatula. Do not overmix.

5. Finally, use a tablespoon to scoop the mixture into lined muffin cups until about 80% full.

6. Bake the muffins in a preheated oven at 190C for 25-30 min.

Note: This makes about 12 muffins. I used two "TEFAL" 6-hole muffin pans, of which the diameter of each muffin cup is 6.5cm.

Peach Coconut Muffin (杏桃椰香马芬)

I am currently into baking cookies and muffins and small cakes at the moment. Thanks to my newly acquired treasures, a series of 3 taiwanese baking books which my sister "painstakingly lugged all the way" from Taiwan to Singapore and I also "painstakingly lugged all the way" from Singapore to Belgium. Well the three books must have clocked a lot of mileage then.That is 3000 + 10500, oh my god, a total of 14500 km! :)

Well, it was really coincidental how it all happened. I was reading someone else's food blog which mentioned a few recipes from this famous author who writes baking books, quite famous in Taiwan it seems. I had the author and the book title jotted down so that I would make a conscious effort to search for it in the Singapore national library during my next trip home.

Somehow, my sis happened to be on a short trip to Taiwan, it was something impromptu and she didn't tell me in advance. Anyway she was online on MSN in Taiwan, and I was chatting with her, so I casually asked her to look out for baking books from this taiwanese lady author who calls herself 孟老师 (her actual name being 孟兆庆). I wanted to get my hands on 1 book in particular (孟老师的100道面包). In the end, my good old sis got not just one book, but three books from the 孟老师 series. She couldn't find the one on bread, but bought the book on afternoon tea (孟老师的下午茶), handmade biscuits (孟老师的100道手工饼干) and little cakes (孟老师的100道小蛋糕). Thank you sis, so sorry you couldn‘t taste my muffins in Singapore, maybe the next time then. :) 

Ok, long story cut short. Today I tried 2 types of muffins from one of the 3 books, the first being this Peach Coconut Muffin (杏桃椰香马芬) and the second one which I am gonna post later is Milk Tea Muffin (奶茶马芬). 

I really like this Peach Coconut Muffin, the rich creamy coconut taste, the crunchiness of the dessicated coconut, plus the sweetness of the dried fruits scattered here and there. My efforts in utilising expired baking products have so far not gone in vain, thank god! And I am still not in a rush to go to the toilet, bless my stomach! ;p

Here is my little kitchen helper trying to grab a muffin while I was busy snapping away with my camera.

Adapted from taiwanese recipe book 《孟老师的100道小蛋糕》

100g dried peach/apricot
2 whole eggs
100g fine sugar
100g oil
200g coconut milk
100g dessicated/grated coconut
160g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda

For Decoration Purpose
some dessicated/grated coconut

1. Cut the dried peach/apricots finely and set aside.

2. Using an egg beater, beat the eggs and fine sugar together in a big mixing bowl, then add in oil and mix well.

3. Add in coconut milk and mix well.

4. Add in dessicated/grated coconut and use a rubber spatula to mix it gently.

5. Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda. Add sieved ingredients into the mixture in (4) and mix it gently using the rubber spatula. Do not overmix.

6. Add in the diced dried peach/apricot and mix it gently using the rubber spatula. Do not overmix.

7. Finally, use a tablespoon to scoop the mixture into lined muffin cups until about 70% full.

8. If you wish, you can sprinkle each muffin with some dessicated coconut before placing them in the oven.

9. Bake the muffins in a preheated oven at 190C for 25-30 min.

Note: This makes about 12 muffins, with some leftover which I baked in mini-tart form. I used two "TEFAL" 6-hole muffin pans, of which the diameter of each muffin cup is 6.5cm.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rock Buns or Rock Cakes?

For the past 2 months, I have not been baking at all and I suddenly have a whole stockpile of baking supplies which have either expired or nearing their expiry dates. Raisins - expired 31 Dec 10. Dessicated coconut - expired 18 Feb 11. Dried apricots - expired 01 Feb 11. I still have flours and dark chocolate which are expiring in April.

Gosh, what a waste to throw them all away. I have the bad habit of buying a lot of stuff at one go, and changing my mind and using another ingredient for baking, and as a result, my baking stockpile has been growing. What am I gonna do with all these baking stuffs which still look good and probably still taste good? I reckon they won't cause me tummyaches if I were to use them in baking since we have a cold and dry climate here in Belgium and things do keep pretty well, unlike in Singapore where foodstuffs get mouldy easily due to the humidity.

So for today, in order to clear my expired raisins, I am baking rock buns or rock cakes, whatever you call it.

I haven't baked this for nearly 20 years. It was a must-learn dish for our home economics lessons in lower secondary. We learnt to bake rock buns and pineapple-upside-down cakes. The home econs teacher used rock buns to teach us the technique of rubbing-in. Basically rubbing in butter with cold hands instead of creaming it with a mixer. I still remember we had to make sure our hands were cold and we had to rub in the butter quickly in a deft manner before the butter had a chance to melt. Well, it was a terrible mess for me. First of all I was a "hot-blooded" young girl so I couldn't keep my hands cold. Secondly how do you expect the butter not to melt at 33 degree celsius in a hot stifling kitchen? 

Anyway, baking rock buns always brings back fond memories from memory lane. As I am still hot-blooded after so many years, so I avoid the rubbing-in method at all costs. However rock buns are almost always without fail, made using the rubbing-in method. But here is a recipe which solves all my woes, it uses the creaming method instead of the rubbing-in method and this recipe is adapted from Alex Goh's Joy of Making Cookies book.

Ingredients A
150g butter
150g margarine
150g sugar
pinch of salt

Ingredients B
1 tsp vanilla essence
75 ml evaporated milk
(replaced with normal milk)

Ingredients C 
430g flour
2 tbsp milk powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Ingredients D 
100g sultana/raisins

1. Cream (A) til light and fluffy.

2. Add in (B) and cream til smooth.

3. Add in (C) and mix til well blended. Then add in (D) and mix til well combined.

4. Take 50g of the mixture and place into a lined and greased cookie pan. Press it flat with finger tip into uneven shape.

5. Bake at 170 degree celsius in a preheated oven for 20-25 min. (I extended for another 5 to 10 min as my rock buns were pretty big and I had to make sure they are well-baked.)

I made at least 30 fairly large rock buns using this recipe. If I reduce the size of each, I think it maybe possible to make 40 rock buns or so. 

Balinese Food - Eat til You Drop

Was on a binging trip to Bali (yes, I meant binge, eat until you drop), I love Indonesian food, kinda regretted not signing up for a balinese culinary course in Ubud.

I can't stop raving about Bali and its food, so here I am again posting pictures of Balinese food which we have sampled, to whet everybody's appetite. Hopefully that will inspire me to create the same back home in Belgium :)

Banana Pancake : This is an all-time favourite. It is on the breakfast menu of almost every balinese hotel or guesthouse. But it is not at all filling for those used to a rich western-style buffet spread. Trust me, you will hear your stomach growling with hunger after an hour if that is all you have for breakfast. :P

Egg Jaffle : See the pressed sandwich at the extreme left and extreme right of the picture below? That is egg jaffle, balinese style. This is something new for me. Call me "suaku" but I have never ever eaten one on my vacation abroad, neither at home. The housekeeper of my holiday villa, Kedut, whipped this up for us every morning.

Kedut's Wrapped Omelette was just an omelette with chopped carrots, onions, spring onions, salt and pepper, but it tasted really heavenly. She kinda put me to shame because I can never fry and flip an omelette without breaking it. :S I really took my hat off to her for presenting us such a nice omelette.

Nasi Goreng : The ubiquitous national dish of Indonesia, and also an "acclaimed" dish in every chinese restaurant in Belgium and Nederlands. To the chinese restaurants in the Benelux region, please for goodness sake, if you are serving fried rice, just call it fried rice and not nasi goreng. If you can't cook the fried rice the way the Indonesians do, then forget about labelling it as nasi goreng. Just adding a few pieces of prawn crackers and a fried egg to the nasi goreng won't do the trick and doesn't make it any more authentic than the real stuff. The real authentic nasi goreng should look like the one below. :P

Nasi Campur : This dish appears in every balinese restaurant big or small. Like Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Nasi Campur (mixed rice) is also the national dish in Indonesia (or that's what I thought). It basically contains tempe (beancurd), ayam goreng (fried chicken), kacang (peanuts) and vegetables such as kangkung and cucumber, sometimes with beans, plus a stick or two of satay and a few pieces of keropok (prawn crackers). Not to forget boiled egg with belacan.

Another well-decorated Nasi Campur. I had this at Chili restaurant in Monkey Forest.

Yet another Nasi Campur. I lost count of how times we have eaten this dish. This one was taken at Tutmak, quite a famous establishment in Ubud. 


Smoked Duck : This is the famous smoked duck which we had at Bebek Bengil in Ubud. The Bebek Bengil or Dirty Duck restaurant has a nicely landscaped pond and some fantastic views of rice paddy fields.

Choose a seat facing the rice paddy fields if possible. You won't regret the view. :P

Monday, March 21, 2011

Visit to Cafe Wayan in Ubud Bali

It's been a long hiatus and I haven't been posting anything for 3 months. I brought my laptop along on holiday but I never got around to using it, not for long at least. First it was my laptop keyboard which started popping out some keys so I was left with a few gaping holes in my keyboard, and then it was my adapter which refused to deliver electrical power and I had to wait 2 weeks for a replacement.

Anyway I was back in Singapore for a couple of weeks and managed to squeeze in a short trip to Bali during the CNY period.

If there is anybody planning to go to Bali in the near future, I would strongly recommend Ubud, and if you are in Ubud, there is one restaurant that is not to be missed. Sorry its not Ibu Oka of the Babi Guling or Balinese Roast Pig fame (I kinda freaked out when I saw how the Babi Guling is prepared in appalling unhygienic conditions, just search Babi Guling in youtube and you can see for yourself) but Cafe Wayan of the Alam hotel chain in Ubud.

Cafe Wayan doesn't look big from the exterior, but like most famous restaurants along the Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, it has a deep interior. You will be surprised how many tables it can accomodate, I counted there were at least 35 tables. You will pass a number of pavillions before you reach the end of the restaurant, some of the tables allow you to sit cross-legged while others come with balinese style lounge-chairs which allow you to relax and enjoy your meal in a lush balinese landscaped garden. And most tables have their own Bale (a balinese pavillion) with a hanging fan which allows you to enjoy your dining experience in privacy and comfort. It is really a very beautiful restaurant not to be missed if you are holidaying  in Ubud, Bali.
This was our second time visiting Cafe Wayan, having visited it in 2008 after reading about it on Lonely Planet. My hubby especially liked their gazpacho. He ordered it the last time and remembered that it tasted as good as the gazpacho served in spanish restaurants in Spain. So we ordered a gazpacho for him, a tomato soup for myself, 2 papaya salads, a fishfinger meal with fries for the baby. It was 2pm when we arrived in Cafe Wayan, having just endured a terribly long 1 hour taxi trip from our villa which was supposed to last only 7 min but took 1 hour because of a massive traffic jam built up along Monkey Forest Road. It turned out there were bus loads of taiwanese tourists being dropped off at the Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck restaurant when the road itself was so narrow that they should not allow tour buses in the first place. Anyway, it was tea time and there were not so many diners and we felt as if we had the whole restaurant to ourselves.

Here are some pictures of the dishes we ordered. I like my papaya salad, the ingredients were simple but the taste was simply gorgeous. The tomato soup was good too, it reminded me of the heavenly tomato soup I had recently in a french restaurant in Wallonia, Belgium. You would be surprised but Cafe Wayan makes very authentic western food, and it was a welcome relief for both hubby and me since we had eaten countless times of Balinese food such as Nasi Campur, Nasi Goreng and all other nasi stuff during the previous 2 days in Ubud.

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