Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions are sweet, rich and soft, perfect as a topping for steak, chicken or pizza with cheese. Who is that fellow who is able to turn this pungent raw onion into such a sweet topping? Thunderous applause for you.

I came across this at Morgan Fields, Star Vista when I ordered their Sirloin steak with caramelized onions. It was so delicious that I actually ate up the very last bit of the onion. Of course the steak was good too, their food and customer service left a very good impression. Back to the onions, the look of the onions doesn't appeal to me. Really, not at all. Can you imagine a spoonful of dark brown mass on top of the brown colored steak? You got it? Brown and brown, hmm...the color combination is really not so eye-pleasing but once you tasted it, hooked is the word. Yes I am hooked to the dish especially the caramelized onions so I really want to try making it. It is actually quite easy to make but you need patience to stand in front of your stove stirring the pot of onions like a witch. Hahahaha....whenever I need to standby my stove stirring food to prevent burning with a wooden spatula, I thought I look like a witch cooking a pot of amazing stuffs :P 

2 large onions
1 knob of unsalted butter
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Peel and slice onions into thin strips.
2. Melt butter in a pot.
3. Add onions and dash of salt, on med-high heat cook and stir constantly until onions turn translucent and browning starts.
4. Switch to low heat, add sugar and continue to stir constantly until they turn brown color. This will take about 30 mins depending on the amount and heat used.
5. Cool completely and transfer to a jar. The onions can keep up to a week in the fridge.

1. You could also add black pepper, herbs to make your onions more flavorful. But for round one, I would suggest the basic because it already tastes very good.
2. I used non-stick pan so that washing will be a breeze after cooking, I don't have to spend time scrapping the brown stains.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Pig Maw & Fish Maw Soup

I never harbor the thought of making pig maw (pig's stomach - zhu du) soup as the cleaning of the stomach is too much of a hassle I heard. But I changed my mind when I came to learn the supermarkets do carry cleaned & cooked pig maw. Wow, that will make my life a lot more easier to try cooking this soup. Over the weekend I have attempted the Dual Maw Soup (pig & fish maw):

1 pk of cleaned & cooked pig maw (about 250g)
1 pk of chicken backs (as stock)
1 piece of fish maw (pre-soak with hot water to soften)
4 chinese mushroom (pre-soak to soften)
2 slices of ginger
4-5 garlic cloves (peeled & slightly cracked)
1 tbsp white peppercorns
1/2 pot of water (I am using 24cm pot)

1. Parboil chicken pieces to remove blood.
2. Boil 1/2 pot of water and add in all the ingredient except salt.
3. Boil for 5 mins then switch to low fire to simmer for 3.5 - 4 hours or until the pig maw are soften.
4. Add salt and serve.

You can adjust the level of spiciness, try the soup after you have boiled for 2hours and add more peppercorns if you find the level is too mild.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Cinnamon Pastry Twist

Come on, let's do the twist! Not with your Bon Bon, but with puff pastry....hahaha... Got You! Ok I promise, this is very easy. Just need 15mins including preparation & baking time to enjoy these tasty sticks ;)

1 piece of frozen puff pastry
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder

1. Preheat oven at 200 degree.
2. Thaw the pastry awhile until you are able to cut.
3. On a chopping board, cut the pastry sheet into 2 and spread butter on most sides.
4. In a bowl mix sugar and cinnamon powder.
5. Sprinkle the mixture on one side of the pastry.
6. Cover the pastry with the other side.
7. Use knife to cut thin strip about 8-10mm thickness. Hold each end of the strip with your fingers and give a few twists.
8. Line the twisted sticks on baking paper and bake for 7 mins or until golden brown.

Enjoy your cinnamon pastry twists with a glass of homemade Frappe Mocha

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Cupcakes into Cakecups

Boohoohoo, I failed my cupcake baking again. Out of 4 times this is the 3rd failure, I don't understand why fail...haiz... The cupcake liners were detached from the cakes and the height were uneven. Too ugly to give them as gift. I told myself no way I am going to present them in such a lousy stage, I have to think of a way out. Scratching my scalp, pulling my hair and suddenly I saw the light bulb *TING*..... I shall make them into cake cups, I will shave off the uneven top and place them into cups and decorate with cream. Yeah, with this new idea in mind I started to plan for the ingredients and the next few steps. I needed more time and luckily it was scheduled as a Sunday bake. One type of cream will be too boring and not colorful enough, I would have to make 2 different types of cream to bring out the look that I want.

 Simply love how pretty the rosette designs are. The design was piped using Wilton 1M tip.

 DIY some simple birthday tags as decoration.

Peach Cream cheese
200g cream cheese
2 tbsp peach puree
2.5tbsp icing sugar
Yellow food coloring

Whip cream
200g frosty whip cream powder
220g cold water
1 tsp rum essence

Both method are the same, whip till sniff enough to pipe.
I used 16 cupcakes to make 8 cake cups.

1. In a nice disposable cup, line a layer of cake. If the cake is not enough to fill up the cup base, cut the cake into half and leave a gap at the center.
2. Pipe the cream cheese at the center gap and also a thin layer on top.
3. The 3rd layer is whip cream, I practiced my rosette pipe on this layer since it will be a hidden layer.
4. Repeat above step 1-3 and remember to pipe a nice rosette using the last layer of whip cream.
5. Garnish with 2 thin slices of peach.


 A mini birthday celebration for colleague!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Cream of Mushroom

There are 2 types of mushroom soup, one is blended finely where you can simply gulp the whole bowl down. I prefer the other type when I can savor the bits of mushrooms while enjoying the rich flavored soup. Sharing this recipe here so that all my friends get to enjoy this chewable mushroom soup ;)

250g Swiss white mushrooms
(I bought a pack of sliced mushrooms, its cheaper than whole mushrooms. Photo below shows some slices in a bowl of minced onion and the purple bowl at the back is minced mushrooms)

2 tbsp large yellow onion
1 knob butter
1 cup chicken stock
200ml cooking cream (I use Emborg brand, 200ml per pack)
1 tbsp white cooking wine
1 tsp cornflour
Black pepper
Dried dill (garnishing)

1. Mince the onion.
2. In a blender, blend 1/2 portion coarsely and 1/2 finely. This is to create different bite sizes.
3. In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté onion till fragrant.
4. Add mushrooms and fry until the water released from the mushrooms dry up.
5. Add cream, stock and black pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 mins.
6. Mix some water to the cornflour and add to soup as thickener.
7. Simmer for another 10 mins while stirring constantly.
8. Add cooking wine and cook for a min before serve.
9. To serve, sprinkle some black pepper and dill or parsley as garnishing.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Mixed Berries Tea Loaf with Cranberries & Walnuts

Yes we were going for our second honeymoon to Japan and my sister has kindly agreed to board my dog. Here's a loaf made just for her before sending my dog to her house, my way to say Thank You <3 Rushing for time so I chose to make the whole loaf inside my Kenwood 250 bread maker. 30 mins to cook tangzhong and cool till room temperature, 3hrs13mins for the loaf making and another 30-40mins to cool the bread. Hence even baking via the bread maker, still need to allow about 5hrs making prior to delivery.
 WET Ingredients
 80g Tangzhong
105ml hot water infused with 4 bags of cranberry, raspberry & strawberry tea

DRY Ingredients

250g bread flour
1 tbsp milk powder
25g sugar
5g dry yeast
4g salt
25g butter

2 tbsp dried cranberries

2 tbsp walnuts
1/2 tbsp brown sugar


1. Prepare 80g of Tangzhong, you could refer to my recipe of cream cheese buns for the method ( Cool till room temperature.

TIPS: Use a silicon whisk if you are cooking tangzhong in a non-stick pot to prevent scratches.

2. Cut open the tea bags and pour all the tea leaves into the hot water, leave it at least 10mins to infuse and cool to warm stage.

3.  In the bread maker baking tin, pour in the wet ingredients first. For the tea, add in all the tea leaves as well. Followed by the dry ingredients like flour & milk powder to cover the liquid. Add the sugar along the sides. Dig a shallow hole at the center and be careful not too deep to touch the liquid. Pour yeast into the hole.

4. On bread maker, select Bread Making function (menu 1 for Kenwood 250 model), choose the loaf weight of 500g, medium crust. For this weight, the process will take 3hr13mins.

TIPS: Here's a reference guide on how to choose the loaf weight according to your flour amount. Pardon my handwriting, I scribbled them and paste it on my fridge for reference. Thanks Molly for sharing this invaluable piece of information.
5. Once the selections are done, you are ready to press the START button. Remember is the start button (refer to picture shown) and not the biggest button at the bottom center, that button is RAPID BAKE which is not recommended to use. Rapid bake will allow faster process but the result is usually undesirable.
6. Kneading in process.
7. The machine will stop kneading for awhile and start again at 3hr03mins, add in the butter and salt.
8. At 2hr51mins, the machine will beep while kneading. This is the time to add in any ingredients you want to incorporate into the dough.
9. I cut the dried cranberries into small pieces and add in. In another few mins the kneading will stop to proof.

10. At 1hr10mins, sprinkle the crushed walnut toppings and brown sugar on the dough.

TIPS: For me I just simply sprinkle the toppings prior to the bake. When the bread was ready I realized that the toppings didn't stick to my bread. Checked with my friend, Jenia and she suggested to egg wash prior to topping adding and this will solve the issue ;)
11. At 0hr48mins, the baking starts.
12. DONE! Once the baking is done, machine will beep you to collect your freshly baked bread. Imagine the aroma of the mixed berries.

TIPS: Do note that if you are adding toppings, the loaf top will not be able to achieve a nice dome shape in bread maker. This is fine for me especially when I don't wish to spend time to shape the dough and bake in oven. If you prefer to have a dome shape, you can add the walnuts into the dough. Leave out the brown sugar, don't want it to sweeten the whole dough. Another way is to choose function "Dough" in bread maker and do the shaping externally. Add the toppings and bake inside an oven.

13. Remember to remove the machine blade from your loaf base. Take a beep at the interior colour, it has a nice greyish colour with a slight tinge of purple if I were to describe. Leave the loaf on a cooling rack and once's cooled, is ready for wrapping and delivery :)

Monday, 3 December 2012

Har Lok 虾烙

This is one of the popular Chinese New Year dishes and needless to say, it is very juicy and yummy. Finger-licking good will be a perfect description for this dish. My mum doesn't know how to cook this so I only had my chance to try this when I was in my late 20s. Hahahaha, I was like a mountain tortoise then. Har is Cantonese is prawn and Lok means fry, so in English is a pan fry prawn dish. Har Lok is sweet tasting and a little spicy, the color is dark because of the soya sauce used which is a must for Har Lok. There are many different ways of cooking this dish, for one with more gravy ketchup & worcestershire sauce are added. For a drier version with lesser seasoning, here it is.

Truly enjoyed this Har Lok dish and I took quite sometimes to finish them. After eating the prawns, I enjoyed eating the caramelized onions too ;)

8-10 medium-large tiger prawns (trimmed, deveined, leave head, tail & shell intact)
Salt & black pepper
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 red onion (chopped)
1/2 red chilli (sliced)
Handful of curry leaves (discard stems)
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (I used hua tiow)

1.  Marinate the prawns with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in pan and saute onion until it turns slight brown and fragrant. Add in garlic and fry for awhile. Followed by chilli and curry leaves.
3. Add in the prawns, turn to the other side when the bottom turns red.
4. Add in the soya sauces and cooking wine. Give a few good stirs and dish out once the prawns are cooked.

Beery Good Chicken Soup

Chanced upon this interesting recipe of using Tiger beer to cook chicken soup ( by Gina Choong), I must try it to see whether it is really that easy with just a can of beer to whip up a bowl of good soup. I substituted the beer brand and pickled garlic with normal garlic, the rest I followed closely. To my surprise, the soup turns out very flavorful with beer fragrance and a very mild taste of beer. Come, let's cheers with this bowl of beery good chicken soup  yumyumyumyumyumyumyum.........seng!

2 boneless chicken thighs (chop into big chunks)
1 garlic clove (slice thinly)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp szechuan peppercorns
1 bottle of Hoegaarden beer (cold from the fridge)

1. Heat up 1 tbsp of cooking oil in pot.
2. Saute garlic till sides turn slightly brown, becareful not to burn it.
3. Add chicken and stir fry 3 mins over high heat.
4. Add beer, szechuan peppercorns, salt to cook till it boils.It is interesting to see a pot of bubbles :)
5. Cover with lid and simmer over small heat for 10 mins.
6. Off flame, remove excess oil using a sieve and serve hot.

I have people asking whether this soup is suitable for children. Well we all know that alcohol evaporates during cooking but wait.... Some of it, not all. Read up this article before you decide whether you want to make this soup for your children.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Zesty Orange Cupcakes

 Lovely citrus smell of orange filled the whole house on a Sunday morning. I never fancy cupcakes as they are usually too sweet but this is different, I love the orange fragrance and they are not too sweet. Yes that's the reason why I am recording this recipe so that I can make more.

150g softened unsalted butter
110g castor sugar
3 beaten eggs
150g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Zest from 1 big orange
2 tbsp orange juice

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a mixer.
2. Slowly add in the beaten egg and continue to mix well.
3. Sift in the flour, baking powder.
4. Add in zest and orange juice and mix well.
5. Half filled the cupcake liners with batter.
6. Bake at pre-heated oven at 160 degree for 15 mins or until golden brown. Use a skewer to test for readiness.
7. Remove from the baking tray to cool on the rack.

Notes/ Tips
- Recipe was modified from Cupcakes & Muffins.
- Original recipe calls for 150g which is too sweet. I have reduced to 110g as my juice extracted was sweet too, the result tasted just nice. You might wish to adjust accordingly.
- Recipe recommends 180 degree for baking but I have reduced to 160 for my oven. I used top & bottom heat with fan mode.
- Use a zest grater to obtain zest for the orange. I have tried other graters that can't even grate the orange, simply need the right tool for this.

150g frosty whip powder
135g liquid (Balance cold juice from one orange + cold water)
2 tbsp orange marnier
Little orange coloring gel
Orange zest & silver/ pearl dragees (decoration)

1. Pour all ingredients into the mixer bowl and beat till texture is stiff enough for piping. When you lift up the beater, the mixture will stay on it and not dripping wet.
2. In a piping bag, cut a hole at the tip and insert Wilton nozzle 1M. Secure the nozzle and bag with a little scotch tape. You can use other nozzle as well, there are many patterns for cupcake icing.
3. I left my piping bag inside the fridge while waiting for my cupcakes to be cooled.
4. On a baking paper, start to pipe a few flora until you obtained a smooth icing flow before you start to pipe on the cakes.
5. Beware that the icing will turn too soft to pipe after sometimes, hence finish up your piping at one go.
6. Decorate the top of the icing with orange zest or dragees.
7. Keep the decorated cupcakes inside the fridge and bring them out 5-10mins before serving.

Take a look at my new toy! A bake-and-carry cupcake tray! I baked on it, piped on it and carried it around ;) Love it, great for small gathering as it allows twelves cupcakes only.  Compact and practical.

Thanks to Elaine and Molly for their patience to answer my baking questions.Muacks!