Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy 3rd Anniversary to My Humble Blog!!!

I used to pen down tried-and-tested or yet-to-be-tested recipes in paper notebooks and sometimes on loose sheets of paper, and more often than not, I would forget where I have misplaced them. 

So 3 years ago, on 30 April 2010, I started this humble blog as a way of digitising my tried-and-tested recipes so that I could prevent myself from losing my precious sheets of recipes which would either disappear into oblivion, or torn into pieces by my child(ren). I remember my first 2 blog entries on that day were a Easy No-Bake Tiramisu from a neighbour and a Lasagne dish from a good old friend.

Picture of the chocolate rose cake I baked for my hubby's birthday, came in handy for my blog's 3rd anniversary.

I never thought I would go this far in pursuing my interest in baking, cooking and maintaining my food blog. I never thought I would meet so many fellow blogger friends who share the same interest as me and who would unreservedly share with me their tips and tricks in baking and cooking.  Last but not least, I never thought I would be able to continue my blog after one year. But the truth is, this blog of mine has been on-going for 3 years! After 3 years, I am still at it. Unbelievable!

I am hoping that one day I will be able to pass down my recipes to my children. My mum has never taught me how to cook, she would often chase me away the minute I stepped foot inside her kitchen so that I would not make a mess and a fool of myself in her territory. And it wasn't easy learning how to bake or cook without any guidance from dear mummy who lives so far away in Singapore. I hope this blog serves as a small legacy for my 2 kids, and one day I would be able to ask one or both of them to search for a particular recipe in my blog and bake or cook it the way I described in my blog. Seriously, that's my humble wish for the next 10 years. By that time, his Majesty will be 14 years old and Her Majesty will be 11 years old. It's never too young to start. :)

Is anybody reading my blog? I dunno, I hope so! Will I still be at it after another 3 years? I dunno, I hope so! Am I rambling to myself? I dunno, I hope not! :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pandan Kaya Bread

I baked this pandan kaya bread on 24 April, but I only have the time to post it up today. I better post it up before I get busier and busier. May is always a busy month for me, the kindergarden is holding mothers' day celebration where all mothers are invited, and there is my son's birthday, he is expecting me to bake him a big 3-dimensional tractor cake! Not to forget, I am hosting the Aspiring Bakers event #31 for May 2013, so this is gonna be an incredibly busy month starting 1 May. Hopefully I will get as many entries as I had last time for Aspiring Bakers #25, I am keeping my fingers crossed. Just a hint for those who has no inkling of what next month's event is about, it is about steamed baos/buns, but actually it is NOT all about steamed baos/buns. Just watch this space for more info coming up!

Now this will be the last part of my so-called "Pandan Everything Nice" series. I have made my own Homemade Pandan Kaya Jam, and baked my first Pandan Kaya Butter Cake, now it is time for Pandan Kaya Bread. This is a recipe that I chanced upon while searching for a bread recipe with kaya jam as a key ingredient.

Pandan Kaya Bread recipe, adapted from HouseOfAnnie, originally from Alex Goh's World of Bread

Ingredients A
300g bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tbsp milk powder

Ingredients B
30g egg (1/2 of an egg since 1 average-sized egg weighs 55g)
60g or 3 round tbsp kaya *
1 tbsp fresh pandan juice + 1/4 tsp pandan paste **
105ml water

Ingredients C
20g shortening, cut into small pieces (can be replaced with butter)

Ingredients D
1/4 cup kaya for the filling ***

Ingredient E
1 egg for egg wash (or you may use the leftover egg from ingredient B)

* original recipe used 60g coconut milk but I replaced it with kaya jam.
** original recipe used only 1/2 tbsp fresh pandan juice while Annie used 1 tsp pandan paste. If you dun have fresh pandan juice, just use 1 tsp pandan paste will do.
*** original recipe used 130g raisins which I omitted

Crumble Topping
30g butter (cold from the fridge, cut into pieces)
30g sugar
60g plain flour

1. Put A into a big mixing bowl and use a spoon to mix till well-blended.

2. Add B, and mix to form a rough dough.

3. Once a rough dough is formed, add C and mix to form a smooth dough. (I am using the dough mode of my bread machine to perform steps 2 and 3, mix for about 10 min.)

4. Put in a slightly-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or damp cloth and proof for about 50-60 min. (As the weather was not warm enough, I turned on my oven to the lowest temp, and let it proof for 1 hour).

5. After the 1st proofing, punch the dough to release the air and knead it a few times, then divide the dough into 15g each and shape into balls. (The weight of the dough was 587 grams, so I divided into 40 balls of roughly 15g each. Basically I cut the dough into 2 equal halves, and each half was further cut into 4 parts which were further cut into 5 equal pieces, that was how I got 40 small balls. The dough was not sticky at all and very easy to handle, there was no need to flour the work surface.)

6. Put half of the dough balls into a well-greased loaf pan, then add a layer of kaya and add the remaining dough balls and proof for 45 min. (I added only 2 tbsp of kaya which I later regretted, should have added more!  I used a big loaf tin about 15cm (W) x 30cm (L) x 10cm (H). But if you are using a 10cm x 20cm loaf tin, you will need 2 of them.)

7. To prepare the crumble topping, add 30g cold butter to a big mixing bowl, and add 30g sugar. Using a fork or using your fingertips (must be cold), mix the butter and sugar till it is well-mixed. Add 60g plain flour and again using your cold fingertips, rub the flour into the butter mixture until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Set aside or store in the fridge until your bread is ready.

8. After 2nd proofing of 45 min, brush with a layer of egg wash and sprinkle the crumble evenly on top. (Remember to brush with egg wash otherwise the crumble will not stick and will start falling apart when you invert the bread!)

9. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 degrees celsius for 25 to 30 min. (I baked mine in the lower half of the oven, not in the middle, as the top of the bread would be too close to the heating elements, and the bread was nicely baked with a golden crust after 30 min.)

10. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for a while. To unmould, use a knife to carefully run through the sides of the bread then invert it on a cooling rack.

- This was a very delicious sweet bread with an incredibly soft texture. Sweet due to the kaya, but the pandan flavour was too subtle for me. 1 tbsp fresh pandan juice alone definitely packed no punch for such a big bread, even with the addition of 1/4 tsp artificial pandan paste, there was not enough pandan flavour. I should have followed Annie's recipe and just use 1 tsp of pandan paste. I also kind of regretted not adding more kaya in between the dough balls. After adding 3 tbsp kaya in the beginning into the dough, I was running short of homemade kaya, so I couldn't add more than 2 tbsp kaya filling. Then I read the comments in Annie's blog and realised that she added 1/4 cup kaya, no wonder! The bread would definitely taste more heavenly if I was more generous with the kaya filling. :S

- My 4-year-old son (did you see him monkeying around in the fotos?) especially loved the crumble topping, and he called the bread a brood-cake (bread-cake), while my 14-mth-old daughter who could only manage a few sounds (of mama, papa, yee and ah) was pointing to the pandan kaya bread non-stop and savouring every single morsel of it. She saw the bread coming out fresh from the oven, lying on the table, and so she started walking around the table in circles, and smacking her lips at the same time. :)

This pandan kaya bread recipe is definitely a keeper for me, I am already thinking of how to tweak the recipe to come up with some other flavours. I would like to follow the original recipe, i.e. use 60g coconut milk in place of kaya and add 130g raisins which I omitted, and maybe add a layer of dessicated coconut or slabs of butter in between. Or I can also add 60ml of orange juice instead of coconut milk, omit the pandan juice/paste and use 1 tsp rum, add 130g raisins, and add a layer of orange marmalade in between the dough balls. This will become an orange rum and raisins loaf. :)

This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homemade Kaya (Coconut Egg Jam) in 15 Minutes

I made this kaya jam twice during the past 1 week. I used 1 tbsp from the 1st bottle for my pandan kaya butter cake on Friday and I finished the rest within 2 days. Then, because I still had so many pandan leaves left and I was still craving for more homemade kaya, I made the 2nd bottle on Sunday and these fotos were from the 2nd batch.

For those who have never heard of this jam, Kaya Jam or Coconut Egg Jam is actually a jam made from coconut milk, eggs, pandan leaves and sugar. This kaya jam is very popular in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. As far as I know, there is nobody whom I know who dislikes kaya jam or kaya toast (toasted bread with kaya and butter). The famous Singapore food blog ieatishootipost once blogged about how to make kaya using the traditional bain-marie method, I have no doubt that method produces very delicious kaya, but it will take you at least 1 hour, if not 2 hours. If you have little time to spare, then this method below will be your life-saviour. :)

This method of making kaya jam is so easy that I can easily make a bottle a day, one after another! I can even make 2 to 3 bottles per day, just give me 1 straight hour of undisturbed quality time! You don't have to stand in front of the stove for hours on end, stirring and stirring and keeping watch of the heat. Just spend 15 min from start to end and you have a bottle of nice and fresh kaya that keeps for at least 1 week in the fridge. Actually I have no idea how long it can keep in the fridge, because it is so good that I can finish the whole bottle all by myself within 2-3 days. My 14-month-old baby knows what good kaya is, after having eaten one piece of bread with kaya spread, she kept asking for more kaya and rejected breads with other spreads. :)

This kaya is very creamy and the taste from the palm sugar is really heavenly! You may ask why is the kaya brown? Is it because the kaya is caramelized by heating up sugar in a pot? No, actually the brown colour is from the palm sugar or gula melaka. Palm sugar and gula melaka are the same thing, by the way. I used a combination of palm sugar and normal white sugar; palm sugar to give it a caramelized flavour and white sugar to give it the required level of sweetness. I find that I will not be able to achieve the same taste if I use 100% palm sugar or 100% white sugar, the ratio has to be 50-50.

The only thing which I differed from the original recipe was the use of canned coconut milk instead of fresh coconut milk. You know where I live, it is nearly impossible to get fresh coconut. So far I tried 2 brands of canned coconut milk, the first one was Chao Koh brand (250ml box) which turned out to be very watery and not very thick; the second one was Rajah brand (400ml can) which had a layer of hardened coconut cream on top and a layer of coconut juice just below the cream. I shook the can hard before opening, but the cream was so hard that there was no way I could get a well-mixed coconut milk from the Raja brand no matter how hard I shook. I was only supposed to use 200ml of coconut milk, so I made sure I scooped half of the hardened coconut cream and top it up with coconut juice to make 200ml.

Recipe adapted from KitchenTigress (big thank you!), you can watch her video here

4 egg yolks at room temp, well-beaten
45g palm sugar/gula melaka, or 3 rounded tablespoons
45g white sugar, or 3 rounded tablespoons
200ml undiluted coconut milk, fresh or canned
4 fresh pandan leaves

1. First, beat 4 egg yolks thoroughly with a handwhisk (or fork or chopsticks, up to you, just make sure it is well-beaten). 

2. Add the palm sugar, white sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves in a pot over medium heat. Stir constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture begins to simmer. Turn off the heat.

3. Slowly pour 1/2 of the coconut milk into the egg yolks, stirring at the same time.

4. Then pour the combined mixture back into the remaining coconut milk in the pot, turn on the heat back to medium-low / medium. Keep stirring for the next 10-15 minutes. You will see the kaya thicken gradually over the next 10-15 min. The kaya, though thickened, may still look a little runny after 15 min. In fact, I cooked mine for 15 min, but don't worry, it will set if you leave it in the fridge.

5. Remove the pandan leaves and transfer the thickened kaya into a clean sterilized glass jar, leave the jar lid open to cool down completely. When it is completely cooled, close the jar and keep in the fridge. It can be kept in the fridge for 1 week. 

Important Notes :
- Make sure you extract only egg yolks and there are no remnants of egg whites attached to the egg yolks, otherwise the egg whites will curdle at the next stage, and you will end up with lumpy or grainy kaya.

- The eggs have to be at room temperature, if they are too cold, it will not thicken easily when you pour hot coconut milk into the egg yolks.

- Please follow the steps and first pour 1/2 of the hot coconut milk into the egg yolks and then back into the coconut milk. If you do the reverse, you may end up with lumpy or grainy kaya.

- If you are using blocks of palm sugar, make sure you chop or crush them into finer pieces. I am using the Srikandi brand of powdered palm sugar which is already in powdered form, no need to chop or crush.

- If you don't have palm sugar, I strongly recommend that you go get your hands on 1 packet, bcos this kaya won't taste nice without palm sugar. Worst comes worst, you may replace palm sugar with brown sugar, but the taste will be slightly different. If you use just white sugar alone without any palm sugar or brown sugar, the taste will be completely different, which I will not recommend.

- If you don't have fresh pandan leaves, you may add artificial pandan paste. The best pandan paste is the koepoe koepoe pandan paste from Indonesia, it is available both in Singapore and in Belgium. I got mine from Sheng Siong supermart in SG.

- You may cut the pandan leaves to a length which will fit into the pot, but don't cut them too short, otherwise you would have to spend more time to pick out the small pieces at the end.

- When you are removing the pandan leaves, hold on to one end of the leaf using one hand, and using another hand, use a pair of chopsticks to squeeze the pandan leaves to catch any remnants of kaya jam sticking to the leaves, so that the kaya jam will not be wasted.

Sorry, I know I am a bit cheong-hei (long-winded), but if you watch the video from KitchenTigress and follow my notes, making this kaya will be a breeze!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pandan Kaya Butter Cake

After buying a pack of fresh pandan leaves 2 weeks ago, I have been thinking what I can do with pandan leaves. There are so many possibilities, pandan chiffon cake, kaya jam, nasi lemak, pandan chicken, the list goes on and on. But the prospect of using up 40 blades of pandan leaves at one go, is actually quite daunting! After 2 weeks of resting in the fridge (due to my bad bout of diarrhoea), they have invited some unwelcome guests (mould!!!) to their party. But luckily, they can still be salvaged, I just cut away the parts that have turned mouldy or black, I am not gonna throw such expensive pandan leaves away just like that! Considering the same amount of pandan leaves would only set me back by less than 0,50 euro back in Singapore, this 250g pack of fresh pandan leaves was considered very expensive at 3,50 euro!

Now, how many pandan chiffon cakes do I have to make out of these 40 pandan leaves in order to make my 3,50 euro worthwhile? Haha.

After some consideration, I chose this Pandan Kaya Butter Cake over a couple of other Pandan Chiffon Cake recipes which I have been thinking about. This Pandan Kaya Butter Cake is a recipe which I have bookmarked for nearly 3 years. I have always procrastinated on trying out this recipe due to the absence of either kaya jam or fresh pandan leaves. Now that I have both, I can't procrastinate anymore.

I wouldn't say this is a very easy cake. After reading Yochana 's blog, I realised a lot of people had problems with the cake batter curdling after adding in the coconut milk. Luckily, I didn't have such a problem bcos the coconut milk I was using was rather liquid and I made sure I mixed them well every time I added each ingredient. The only problem I had was that the cake batter leaked from my springform cake pan and dropped onto the bottom of the oven, creating a big mess and a charred smell that lingered in my kitchen for a long time. And I forgot that this was a butter cake which didn't require greasing since there was already so much butter, so I greased the sides of the cake pan. As a result, there was a lot of oil bubbling at the sides when the cake was done. Strange enough, it was difficult to remove the cake despite using a springform pan. Last but not least, I was a little disappointed that my pandan kaya butter cake didn't turn out green, I was expecting a nice natural green colour. But the taste was really good, it was moist and buttery and had a great flavour from the fresh pandan juice and you could taste a tinge of the home-made kaya jam. How I wish I had put in more kaya jam! Next time perhaps :)

By the way, this is my 201th post. After 3 years, I am still at it. Incredible. :)

Pandan Kaya Butter Cake adapted from Aunty Yochana and Wendy

250g butter at room temp
200g fine sugar

1 tbsp kaya (updated: homemade kaya recipe in 15 min)

6 eggs *
150ml 180ml canned coconut milk **
50ml pandan leave juice, freshly squeezed ***
1/4 tsp salt

300g cake flour 

1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk powder

1. Using a cake-mixer, cream butter and sugar until creamy. Add in kaya and mix well.

2. Add in eggs one at a time, mix well after each addition. Add in coconut milk, pandan juice and salt and mix well.

3. Sift the cake flour, milk powder and baking powder together. Add in the sifted flour mixture into the cake batter in 3 additions and use a spatula to gently fold in the flour.

4. Pour the cake batter into a 8-inch round springform cake pan and put it into a preheated oven and bake at 175 degrees celsius for at least 60 min. I baked mine for 70 min. You can use a 8-inch round pan or a 7-inch square pan, they are about the same size.

5. After 1 hour, remove from oven and use a toothpick to check if the cake is done. Invert the cake and allow it to cool on a baking rack before removing it from the cake pan.

- Each egg is about 65 to 70g with shell, they are eggs from my 2 chickens

- I am using Chao Koh brand coconut milk, one box contains 250ml. Not the best brand but the only brand I have at home, it is rather watery.

- Use 1 cup of fresh pandan leaves, about 5 leaves or 25g, cut into 1cm pieces, blend in a blender with 1 cup of water, then strain through a fine sieve, to obtain 50ml of concentrated pandan juice. This is the first blend. You will get more than 50ml, what you saw in the glass jar was the remaining after removing 50ml. The remaining pandan juice can be kept in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge and be kept for a few days.

- Note that total amount of coconut milk and pandan juice should not exceed 200g, otherwise cake becomes too wet and dense. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Singapore Hainanese Pork Chops

I didn't realise that I have been away for 2 weeks. Time flies! Last week I had a very bad bout of food poisoning, I did a merlion roar (first time I threw up in 20 years!) on day 1, followed by 4 days of continuous diarrhoea. My stomach was practically churning non-stop like a washing machine even though I have completely stopped consuming any solid foods except water and bread. I took poh chai pills and motilium in the beginning but stopped taking them because I feared the pills would lead to more revolutions in my stomach. My mind was so muddled that I couldn't think properly! On hind sight, I should have downed more of those poh chai pills to cut short my suffering, stupid me! 

Anyway, at one point in time, I thought I was going to die of diarrhoea, seriously. I thought I had stomach cancer or some incurable stomach-related diseases. I even prayed to God that I would cherish my life and keep an eye on my diet after I recover. No, it was not due to over-eating, it was probably due to some contaminated food that I ate or maybe stomach flu which I got from the creche which I send my child to. But, I threw caution to the winds straight after I recovered, and started to yearn for food that I missed badly.

The first Singapore specialty that I badly want to cook and eat after enduring my 5 days of ordeal is.....guess what? One of the most famous chinese dishes in Singapore: Singapore Hainanese Pork Chops! Being half a hainanese, I must say my hainanese pork chops are not as authentic as those cooked by the hainan chefs from my mum's side of the family, but definitely good enough for me and my family. :)

Didnt have time to take a better picture because we were all starving!

Adapted from iloveicookibake and 3HungryTummies (for 5 servings)

Seasoning for marinade
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp chinese cooking wine (can replace with sherry)
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp corn flour 
1 egg

Sauce ingredients

5 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp worchester sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp sugar (too sweet, should reduce to 1 or 1.5 tbsp)
1/2 cup chicken stock (using knorr chicken cube)
1 tbsp corn flour for thickening

Other ingredients
900g pork cutlet (5 pieces, each cut into 1/2, to make 10 pieces) *
1 cup cracker biscuits (crushed+ 1 cup breadcrumb flour **
1/2 cup oil for frying
1 big onion, julienned
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
1 can pineapples, cut into small pieces

* pork cutlet = varkenskotelet in Dutch
** using LU parovita volkorencrackers met sesamzaad and paneermeel as breadcrumb flour

Method for frying pork chops
1. Use a mallet to flatten the pork chops. Or you can use a fork to prick holes all over the pork chops, then marinate them with the seasoning for at least 1 hour.

2. Coat the pork chops evenly with the mixture of crushed crackers + breadcrumb flour. 

3. Heat up a frying pan to medium-high heat with some oil, shallow-fry the coated pork chops for 10 min, 5 min for each side. (My pork chops were rather big and fat so they needed a longer time to cook.) Do not crowd the pan,  fry them in 2 or more batches. Turn the pork chops regularly to make sure both sides are equally browned. Once they are golden-brown and crispy, remove them and set them aside on a piece of kitchen roll or baking paper to drain off the oil.

Method for preparing pork chop sauce

1. Heat up a wok to medium-high heat with 2 tbsp oil. Saute the garlic till fragrant, then add in the onions and fry for 1 min. 

2. Add in the cut tomato wedges, chicken stock and sauce ingredients, followed by canned pineapples. Let the sauce come to a boil.

3. Once it starts boiling, adjust to taste by adding salt and pepper if necessary. Add 1 tbsp corn flour to thicken the sauce and stir well.

4. Pour the pork chop sauce over the fried pork chops and now we are ready to serve. :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Berry Fruity Tart

This was a strawberry-raspberry tart which I made for hubby's birthday, in addition to the chocolate rose cake. There were quite a few hiccups in making this tart which made me very frustrated. Firstly, the original tart case was too fragile and broke into pieces just like a jigsaw puzzle, as I was about to turn and flip it onto my tart tin. I already followed the instructions and chilled the dough in the fridge before rolling it out, so I wondered what was wrong. But I decided not to give up and I chilled it a second time, still it didn't work. I had to chuck it into the bin and quickly make a second tart case based on my apple crumble tart's recipe.

The second hiccup was due to the pastry cream, I misread the recipe and thought that only 2/3 of the pastry cream was used for a 18 cm tart, so I thought the amount of pastry cream would be enough for a 9-inch (23cm) tart. Actually I kinda suspected it wasn't enough when I was stirring it on the stove, but didn't realise it was so little until I was about to pour it into the pre-baked tart case. I should have made one-and-half-times the portion in order to fill my tart! Something to note if I wanna use the same recipe again the next time. :)

Anyway, it's probably my fault for not reading carefully and adjusting the recipe accordingly. Still I was glad I managed to serve it to the guests despite the many hiccups in baking this tart. Will post the recipe soon...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chocolate Rose Cake with Black Forest Fillings

This was a cake I made for hubby's birthday over the last weekend. It was my first time piping the roses with Wilton Tip 1M and I wasn't too happy with how I finished the swirls. If you look carefully, you will see what I mean. :)

As usual, I have a problem with estimating the amount of whipped cream I needed. The recipe stated that it would make 480ml of whipped cream, but that didn't seem to be be enough! It wasn't before long that I realised that I needed another bottle, otherwise there would be roses on top but not at the sides, haha. In fact I couldn't even finish off the roses on top, there was a big gaping hole for at least 2 extra roses to be piped. It was already Sunday night and Monday was a public holiday. Luckily there was still a Carrefour nearby open on Easter Monday, and I managed to get the 2nd bottle of whipping cream I needed, just in time to pipe the rest of the roses for the birthday party in the afternoon. Phew! 

In order not to repeat the same mistake I had with whipped cream the previous time, I followed the advice of JoyOfBaking this time round (thanks to Mui Mui for the link) and placed my mixing hooks into the freezer and my mixing bowl outside in the garden to chill before whipping. 
The frosting was a simple chocolate whipped cream frosting from JoyOfBaking but the inside was actually just like a black forest cake, I used exactly the same sponge cake and filling recipe as my black forest cake.
I started piping the roses from the outside, but that should not be the case, you should pipe the roses starting from the centre of the cake, inside-out. And I still gotta improve on how I finish off the swirls, I couldn't get them to taper off nicely, and most of them finished off in a haywire manner. Check out this video, it shows you exactly how to pipe roses using Wilton 1M tip.

My hubby, by the way, wanted to be forever 30! 

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