Mixed Fruits Marshmellow Cake

Mom's the word especially when the 'effect of urgency', i.e. speed, to have something done soon, and yes, I mean, quite immediate, not just literally. Mom was clearing the kitchen cabinet and expressed 'awe and amazement' at the variation of bottles of 'things' I have bought due to my growing baking interest.

So there she was, 'urging' me to 'finish up' the baking ingredients as CNY is around the corner and the cabinet space is meant for our yearly goodies and stocks. Well, I wouldnt even begin to attempt to explain the uses of each of the bottled spices, powder etc unless someone can assist in translating very accurately the 'rationale' for me to convey to my Mom dearest.

Arh well, so there I was, speedily checking out what to clear up first.

Had been doing quite abit of oven cake baking, and having bought a can of half peach and a packet of marshmellow, I suddenly recall the marshmellow cake using the receipe in LeeLee's blogsite. This very same receipe was re adapted and repeatedly showcased in Jestina's blogsite too. And managed to get add in slices of fresh kiwis and blueberries to color it up abit.

Clumsily, the gelatine was not well mixed with syrup causing the liquid to flow and damp the table when I removed the cake ring. As much as I tried to salvage, the appearance and the height of the cake was sadly flat.

Nevertheless, this is indeed a receipe of keep. Ya, next round, I should get it right. I believe.


BlueBerry Sour Cream Cake

Theres this cup of 200ml sour cream sitting in the fridge and with the expiry date coming up in another week's time, I 'resolve' to do something with it soon. So, I grabbed two puns of lovely looking Australia fresh blueberries from Yishun NTUC last evening by chance and settled down to baking BlueBerry Sour Cream Cake for the very first time this afternoon.

Very often I have seen and read about using yoghurt as an alternate to sour cream but thought it best to 'stick' with, as far as possible with the original receipe. The inspiration originated from Zu's blogsite, and after verifying the measurement with her, this is my end product. The only adjustment made is a reduced amount of sugar content.

The cake texture is moist and rich within. Then again, as I was not able to adjust my oven temperature, the top layer was abit crust like instead. 'Nothing beats homebaked cake', Mom said earlier as she 'sampled' my BlueBerry Sour Cream cake.

This sure is a fragrant filled Sunday of bake


Ginger Nutz Biscuit

Just felt the need to bake something today and decided to bake ginger nutz cookie, a receipe which i came across from a borrowed library book titled "500 Cookies". I believe some of the ladies whose blogsites i visit actually have this cookie book and this is just one of the many other treasured cooking or baking books they own. For me, as for now, I am not certain how long this interest will last so I would merely follow the receipe from the book and bake as instructed.

There were no nuts added into the ingredients, and so given that fact, I have no idea on why the name of the cookie as such. However, as it requires the natural flavouring of ginger powder and mixed spices, I knew this is one cookie I must attempt to bake.

During the preparation, the 'dough' was soft and wet and had to be chilled in the fridge for one hour. So, i left it in the fridge and went out to the nearest shopping mall to purchase some groceries and necessities for Mom. Well, I got home only 2 hours after. And the dough was too chilled to roll into shape, I resorted to thawing the dough by placing the bowl above the top of the fridge instead of using the microwave oven. Its not the most conventional method but at least I need not worry about how many seconds or minutes to thaw it sufficiently for the suitable state to roll.

Instead of the petite size of 3cm as recommended in the receipe book, my cookies were, well 5cm thereabouts as I was in a rush to get them baked and get ready for dinner. The aroma was carried by the windy blows of chill air (this is closest to winter season that our tropical island is experiencing), getting our senses awakened by the baking process of ginger powder and mixed spices powder. Not only did it fill the kitchen, but also the hall with the natural fragrance, simply 'aromatherapic'. (this may not be an approved word in dictionary.)

This is about the closest to ginger bread cookie i could make. Not the ginger bread man shaped, but the simplicity of the flat rounds to carry it through to whet the appetite. This should do just fine, I think.


Lao Pao Bing 2

Baked my 1st batch of lao pao bing about a month plus ago and today, sudden craving dawned upon me. With Mom's concurrence, within the next minute, I grabbed my hand written receipe book (rather than printing on A4 size paper, i have already got 4 ring notebooks jotting my favourite receipes for easy browse and carry around. =p). And as always, the kitchen, my domain until the bake is complete. Pretty domineering some may say, but I cant 'accomodate' having to shift or move here and there during the process of the preparation, its rather 'disturbing' lah. Anyway, I am THE one to clean up all the utensils and stuff without any help anyway, so that also explains why I can 'command' the space occupancy for that time zone.

I flipped to my favourite page of intent = Florence's revised receipe on Lao Pao Bing. And viola, I must say that technically my skills have improved (picture as evidence. =D). Just look at this latest batch of one dozen, all equally shaped and adorned with egg glaze to give it the shine. Of course, if I had sprinkled some white sesame seeds on the surface, that would have even been prettier in sight.
The fillings are melting smooth compared to the last batch and even Mom was generous to give me thumbs up too! Lovely bitez.

Credit goes to Florence for the revised receipe.


Cinnamon Loaf

Theres another blogsite which I have been visiting these days and that is Happy Home Baking. And recently, as mentioned in her blog, (quote in summary), with feedback from her regular visitors who like me, were lamenting about how 'challenging' bread making is without a breadmaker. Spontaneously, she baked her recent green tea with red bean bread with her hands. Inspired somewhat by her, I had a go at bread making with my small hands earlier on. (p.s. I am a fleshy gal but with comparatively smaller wrist and bony hands. no, no, i am no alien though. haha.)

Following a receipe from Baking Mum, LeeLee, http://bakingmum.blogspot.com/2006/10/bread-paradise.html, and instead of ingredients filled buns, i tweaked the receipe to become Cinnamon Loaf bread instead. This is my 2nd attempt at this receipe and this round turned out far better than my 1st try, which was about 2 months back.

However, I must profess that kneading bread dough with just my pair of hands was no easy task especially when I had kinda 'hurt' my left wrist over the weekend due to accidental careless carrying of my shopping bags. Thus, I was gentler in certain kneading movements, whilst on further minutes, more pressure with focus on my right hand. At the end of the initial 15 mins of manual kneading, boy, you can imagine how relieved I was that the dough was nicely formed and I could relax my arms while the dough was left to 'proof' for the 1st one hour.

Then came the 2nd round of 'punching' of the air from the dough that had rested for an hour. WIth every punch, i could heard the 'suppressed' air bubble burst, 'pop' pop'. Followed with the roll dough, and instead of using melted butter or fresh milk, I used a tsp condensed milk mixed with a tsp of water to 'moisturise' the dough before sprinkling on the cinnamon powder and brown sugar and roll up. Set it aside in greased pan for another hour of proofing.

Baking time was about half an hour and after 1 hour of cooling the loaf on the wire rack, as I was preparing to use the knife to detach the loaf, I was thrilled instead that the loaf slipped off from the pan and landed neatly on the wire rack.

Oh yes, finally a successful hand made freshly baked Cinnamon Loaf which I can safely declare is 'edible', 'soft', 'cottony' with crispy crust (fresh & warm fm oven) .... hmmm... i love the fragrance of cinnamon.

Credit goes to LeeLee for the receipe and Happy Home Baking for showing the way to hands- on bread making.


Lychee Muffins

Last month Jestina (Hut of Cranberry) 'tickled' my tastebuds with her beautiful bakes of Lychee Muffins and recently, LeeLee (Baking Mum), followed the same receipe and loaded her blogsite with the lovely pictures posting. Alas, again, there I began to drool. As one of the fellow blogger said, 'dont drool, follow the receipe and bake your own.'

So on this wet, gloomy Tuesday, (notwithstanding), I finally got down to baking these lovely muffins of my own too. I am not exaggerating in mention that even during the preparation stage of just stirring and blending the ingredients, you can already smell the lovely fruitty fragrance from the lychees, and plus 30 mins of setting aside time for the mixture to 'thicken', goodness, my kitchen smells simply heavenly.

And when the muffins were in the oven, baking, with the dampness from the rain, the heaviness of the air with the cool wind blowing, the aroma of the bakes immensely filtered into the whole house (well, mine is a small HDB flat, small space, so the smell was like full coverage), and maybe, the fresh baking aroma 'found' its way into my neighbours' domain as well, perhaps. Gosh, I wonder if any of them had drooled.

The muffins were soft and fluffy sweetened by the crunch of the juicy pieces of bite size lychees. yumz.

Thanks to Jestina for sharing the receipe.

Cookies Combi

One blogsite venture leads to another, from Ching's Little Corner of Mine with making reference to Chawanmushi, with receipe originating from Gina, this chain of links gave 'birth' to my own version of cookies combi from the receipe.

Unconventionally, and greedily, I added combi of roasted white sesame seeds, raisins, nestum cereal, dessicated coconut for my cookie. With the additional of just 10g of melted butter, I 'resorted' to adding more nestum cereal and chilling it in the freezer a little while for the dough to be more 'manageable'.

Then again, you would realise that my cookies do not have the pretty rounded shaped. But taste wise, these are original crunchy cookies ladden with combi of wholesome goodness which as I quote my Mom : " you wont be able to buy from any shop outside."

Credit goes to the lovely ladies who have generously shared their receipes as they have indirectly assisted in the making of these cookies.


Chocolate Crunchies

Coincidentally, many blogsites which I have visited recently are 'booming' with temptalicious chocolate bakes. The variety are far ranging from simple brownie to oozing hot chocolate in cuppa etc.... with rum, or brandy, or kirsch or even my favourite baileys too etc etc. The craving starts and the temptation was overwhelming. I must make something homemade with 'chocolatety' element. Then again, I was not in the 'mess up and clean up the kitchen on your own' mood, so I resorted to something simple.

I recall my sister bringing back mini Hari Raya homemade chocolate cookies from her Malay colleague, and coming across a simple receipe from a receipe book, I decided its worth a try. The receipe was tweaked according to my preference. Instead of unsalted butter, corn oil was used, and instead of crisp rice cereal, Kellogs corn flakes was used. Gathering all the basic ingredients, in less than an hour, my first batch of homemade chocolate crunchies.

The process was simply a breeze. Unbelievable though it may seem, this is the 1st time I am melting chocolate bars using the double boil method. My brother liked the crunchiness while sister says its abit too sweet. Perhaps I'll use the plain unsweetened or even better, bitter black chocolate crunchies next time.

Simple delight. Crunch.


Steamed Pumpkin

One of Mom's favourite vegetable is pumpkin. And she would usually whip it up as a dish on the table frying the pumpkin in their chopped chunky pieces with oil and dashes of light soya sauce and salt for taste. Whenever i have a chance to 'woo' her palate, it shall be steamed pumpkin kueh instead.

This is a receipe I had from one of those Asian chefs' home cooked favourites dishes and this one in particular is by a HK chef . So you can imagine the authentic taste. The ingredients which I have prepared are 500g of pumpkin, 6 small dried mushrooms, 1 lap cheong, 2 shallots, 2 tbsp oil, 100g rice flour, 40g plain flour and 3 tbsp dried shrimps. (the original receipe called for green prawns, which I have totally no idea. however, if you tell me tiger prawns or lobster, you would see the sparks and nods of acknowledgement from my expressive greed.)

The preparation was easy as it took me less than half an hour and right after one hour of steaming, this is what I got. A golden looking steamed pumpkin kueh. (some would have assumed it was custard made kueh at a glance). You can spot the lap cheong slices and the mushrooms.

The original name of this receipe is 'steamed savoury pumpkin cake', but for me, its more 'kueh like' in texture and taste. Mom likes this kueh and had already taken 3 slices once it was fully cooked and ready for devour.

Delightful warm slice for tea or a pan fried version for breakfast. Eat it the way you like it.....satisfying.


Black Sesame Daifuku Mochi

extract of history from http://www.answers.com/ =
Daifuku were originally called Harabuto mochi (腹太餅, Harabuto mochi?) (belly thick rice cake) because of its filling nature. It is considered the ugliest of all the Wagashi, and is therefore called a "Polar Bear Poop." Later the name was changed to Daifuku mochi (大腹餅, Daifuku mochi?) (big belly rice cake). Since the pronunciation of Fuku (腹, Fuku?) (belly) and Fuku (福, Fuku?) (luck) is the same in Japanese, the name was further changed to Daifuku mochi (大福餅, Daifuku mochi?) (great luck rice cake), a bringer of good luck.

Interesting information indeed. And looking at my end product made earlier after reading the above history got me pondering if the title of this blog should be amended.

Having quite a fair amount of 'koh fen' in the kitchen cabinet nudged me to get my hands to do something about it before it expires next year. Then again, the thought of it laying and taking space somehow 'bothers' the mind.

Jotted a receipe from a cooking book some time back but cant remember exactly the original source. And with only black sesame paste available in the fridge, then lets make it Black Sesame Daifuku Mochi, well, the modified version.

The receipe actually states to knead the koh fen and margarine and lotus seed paste (i changed it to black sesame seed paste) and icing sugar and water into smooth dough and shape into desired shapes. So that differs from the wrapping thats was supposedly the more traditional and correct method. I highly recommend those interested in making mochis to check out LeeLee's blogsite. Hers looks great.

My end products resembles brownie topped with icing sugar, or jelly with icing sugar from a distance. Then again, when comparing this receipe with the snowskin mooncakes receipe, its practically the same.

Well, at least, I have used up some koh fen for this making. 500grams of koh fen more to go.


Chicken Pie

Recovering from the disappointment of yesterday's failed attempt at chiffon cake baking (drama added indeed), since everyone's home today because of Deepavali {Happy Deepavali to all Indians !!!!}, i planned baking chicken pie for lunch since last night. So, last evening, I went NTUC to get the basic ingredients and arranged for Mom to get the US potatoes for me from the wet market.

I have viewed, reviewed, and seen how successful a handful of the talented ladies bake this lovely pastry and decided to give it a go myself as well. The receipe is from the wonderful Baking Mum, LeeLee http://bakingmum.blogspot.com/2006/12/recent-bakes.html. Her nimble hands woks up and bakes up and even crafts up all the wonderful looking dishes and bakes and icing patternz and sugar paste designs which never fails to amaze me.

So from 11am this morning, I started to get busy. First part was tricky as I do not have any prior basic knowledge on pastry dough making. However, fortunately, I managed through with abit of help from my sister who had to lend a hand to sift in more plain flour as the dough was simply too sticky and soft. Otherwise, all else went on well.

The only part about the receipe which I tweaked was adding mixed herbs and salt to marinate the chicken breast meat first for the flavouring to sink into the chicken meat for the extra 'umph' from the fragrance of mixed herbs.

As this is my first time chicken pie make and bake, I took abit more time during the preparation stage and at 1pm ++, we were all too hungry to wait an extra minute for the pastry to be more crispy. To add to it all, you can imagine the fabulous aroma from the bake which was making all of us drooling at the smell and getting more 'famished' with the rumble and tumble from the tummy.

The feedback I received were that the onions needed to be chopped more finely (not all are onion lover like me), and that the sugar added should be reduced and more pepper to whip up the taste.

About three quarters of the pie has been 'wiped' out as I am typing here. And this is a delightful nice homemade chicken pie made from scratch. Feels good.

All thanks to LeeLee for sharing the wonderful receipe.


Apple Grape Chiffon Cake

Again, from the http://www.answers.com/ webpage,
Chiffon may refer to:
Chiffon, a type of fabric
Chiffon cake, a light, fluffy cake
Chiffonade, a French term for the cutting of herbs or leafy green vegetables into long, thin strips

This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same title. If an internal link led you here, you may wish to change the link to point directly to the intended article.

Baking chiffon cake is still is a 'love hate' process. I love to sink my teeth into a light, fluffy chiffon cake, and to be surrounded by so many talented ladies who bakes chiffon cakes like a breeze maketh me 'green' in the eyes. Despite having read so many Q & As on how to achieve the perfected, well risen cake. Again, and oh, chiffon chiffon, why art thou so tough for me?

This is not my 1st and well, hopefully, not the last trial at baking chiffon cake. Rather than baking the orange chiffon cake ( the original receipe ), I decided to tweak the flavour by using the Marigold Apple Grape 100% Fruit Juice instead. During the mixing, my mind was pondering how it will turn out as the color seemed odd with the mix with the egg yolks. The color was purplish brown.

Other than that change of the juice, I followed every single step diligently, even to the extent of whipping the egg white stiff peak with my two hands rather than using the mixing machine. And oh yes, my hands were reaching point of stiffness too after 15 mins of my 'manual' mode of medium speed.

When the cake was in the initial 15 mins of bake time, it was rising beautifully. So i stepped away from the kitchen and within the next 10 mins or so, my sense of smell sent me 'flying' to the kitchen to check the bake. What I saw displeased me. The exterior of the bake was turning 'chao ta'. Speedily, I took out the cake and inverted it on the wire rack to cool. But to no avail. The cake still shrunk, the texture within was dense.

Wonder what went wrong during the process :
1. the oven temperature ? (my oven is preset at 200 degrees)
2. the mixing process of egg yolk mixture with the egg white ?
3. the liquid weight / content ?
4. me ?

arh well.....chiffon chiffon chiffony..........


Orange Yoghurt Muffins

Defination of Muffins from www.answers.com :
= A small, cup-shaped quick bread, often sweetened.
= An English muffin.

Interesting, eh, how food history and defination dates back to the ancient days.

As usual, my 'pattern' when it comes to what to bake depends largely on whats available or coming close to expiry. I believe alot of people share this common behaviour. (just a wild guess, do not quote me.)

From the last bake of lemon yoghurt muffins, I changed it to orange flavoured since thats the only citrus alternative available in my fridge. I added the grated zest of the sunkist orange as well to give the muffins the extra 'umph' of orange taste.

I must say that this is an easier way to get everyone in the house to have yoghurt rather than hoping that they help themselves to finish a small cuppa of 150ml of yoghurt. In any case, I have not acquired the taste of taking plain yoghurt either. It has to be the fruity, mixed yoghurt.

Like the last round, the moist, soft texture of the muffins pleases my palate. i like.


Cream Corn Jelly

I was in the 'craving' mood this morning to make dessert. So, while browsing the cabinet, I noticed the recently purchased can of cream sweet corn, two packets of Konnyaku Jelly powder and a small packet of coconut milk, I recalled that there was a receipe that 'inspired' the purchases. Bingo, its from Aunty Yochana's blogsite and reading through the steps, it does seem easy to follow, even for an amateur like me.

However, I had reduced the amount of coconut milk and cut down the sugar as my siblings and myself are 'sometimes' ( and i mean sometimes) calculating the intakes of the calories, sugar etc.

So there I was this late morning, for a change, with boiling pot of water and using the spoon, stirring, mixing and viola, after 20 mins of prep work, after one hour and half hours of set and chill, this was my end product of Cream Sweet Corn Jelly from a long curvy based tin.

One commented :"hmmm... as good as bengawan solo.", another commented :" texture not smooth.". My take, it can be better and it should be better next round. However, we did concur with the level of sweetness which was just right, and we love eating corn, the natural sweetness and the crunch with every bite. yumz.

Credit goes to Aunty Yochana for the receipe.


Beggar's Chicken

'Resourcefully', I searched the history behind the given name to this dish. Seems that long time ago, a thief wrapped the stolen bird in clay and baked it in a hole in the ground to avoid being caught in the act. Clay and mud (natural earthenwares, which are now our modern casseroles) are natural insulators that can retain the natural juices of the food during the process of slow cooking. Smart aleck, i mean thief.

This was my 2nd attempt cooking this receipe which I found in Lee Lee, Baking Mum's blogsite some time back and this was cooked for last night's dinner. Arh, no mud or clay was used to wrap the chicken in retaining the juices and gravy, and in this current era, we are using the natural fragrance of lotus leaf wrapping and our 'modernised' aluminimum foil to insulate heat during the baking. However, I skipped the making of the outer most layer made from plain flour (you know, as a replacement of mud ./ clay wrap) but, as I wasnt in the mood to do it coz the last round when i attempted that, the hardened baked plain flour, it was tough to crack and had to be thrown once it was cracked open to unveil the end product.

Instead of baking the chicken for 3 hours, mine was only baked for 2 solid hours. Nevertheless, the chicken meat was tender, moistly soaked in the juices, and no knife was used for the breaking of the chicken parts. We, literally, could detach (tear in the ancient term in the act ) the parts as we desire as the chicken was already very cooked to the bones to the extent that breaking it was effortless.

Again, this dish was a winner with my family members who readily gave thumbs up. Credit goes to LeeLee for sharing the receipe.


Rainbow Wheels

It has become 2nd nature for me to browse the shelves at the community library, in which i will dwell in the maze of rolls and rolls of shelves which houses a mass variety of books relating to interests, hobbies, reference or knowledge etc. Well, a visit at least once in 2 weeks when the books are almost due for return is deemed necessary so as not to incur additional 'cost' for any overdues. Alas, if only I had been so diligent during my schooling days, then perhaps, just perhaps, my English language could have fared better. But of course, things have taken a different course in my living years, so lets move ahead.

Came across this rather seasoned looking cooking book titled 'Asian High Tea Favourites' by Betty Saw, a renowed veteran chef in Malaysia, in the community library last week, and I was rather taken aback that the book was first published in 1979, that was when I was still a small kiddo. (shant elaborate further lest my age gets unveiled). A walk back to memory lanes.

Then again, the receipes in this book are interesting too as it is written by an Asian for Asians. And so I decided to give this receipe called 'Rainbow Wheels' a try out bake. At 1st glance, its color captures your attention, and then the guessing game of, is it swiss roll cake? rolled buns? Well, its actually baked cookies. Lovely right? But of course, I am not professionally trained nor skillful enough to roll the dough that perfectly, nor did i register the dough freezing time correctly, and hence, my end product looks like a 'deformed' semi circle instead of the perfected round shaped biscuit look in her book.

Even my Mom was 'enchanted' by the colors in this biscuit. And yes, this was inspired from the sightings of the wonderful colors array in Aunty Yochana's blogsite.

A colorful trial bake start for the week.

Marble Cake

I've not been able to bake as frequent due to 2 main reasons :
a. flu and cough virus has caught up with me for the past 2 weeks ;
b. my 'avid' supporters in bakes, ie. my 2 sisters are away, having a well deserved holiday overseas.

And today, I decided to bake because my sisters are scheduled back on Tuesday morning. So, this bake should be good as a mini welcome munch for them. Bravely, I wanted to emulate the making of the lovely marble muffins which Aunty Yochana baked recently. The swirl patterns on her cakes simply looks artistically divine. Have a view via her receipe link at http://auntyyochana.blogspot.com/2007/10/marble-muffins.html and be convinced of her talent. Seeing is believing!

But alas, my bake did not turn out as arty as I desired (pardon my lack of 'technical' skill and my not so nimble hand work as this is a self learning process and I was never artistic to begin with. =p). No one said it was gonna be easy especially for amateurs like me. Ah well. Practice, practice and more practice.

And instead of muffins, i tweaked it and made a marble cake instead using a 8" inch round baking tin. And instead of using the fresh plain milk, i used the new-on-shelf, Marigold HL Strawberry flavoured milk. The cake looked flat, laddened heavily with more chocolate than the, well, intended effect. And my so called swirled effect was visible only from top view, only if you zoom in very, very closely.

Nevertheless, I am pleased with the texture of the cake. Moist and soft. During the baking, the aroma soaking the kitchen was scented with the whiff of strawberry milk mixed with chocolate, a delightful inhale.

Thank you Aunty Yochana for sharing the receipe. (p.s. i'll make it look better next round. hopefully. =p)


Lemon Yoghurt Muffins

After last Tuesday's fried chicken wings for dinner, the following day I had sore throat, followed by fever, cold and coughs. Probably due to the weather also, but the main root for the sickly frame of mine, which i am certain was the 'over indulgence' of the deep fried chicken wings. Yupz, greedy me. =p

So you can imagine how 'trapped' I had been able not being able to access the kitchen to cook or to bake. Half the time for the last few days, i was blowing my 'biggy' nose one minute and then coughing within the next second. Felt so lousy. All I could do was to eat the medications timely to nurse and rebuild my stamina back again.

Feeling less zombie and much better today, i 'itched' to bake something simple. And while thinking, I searched the fridge and realised that the lemons which I bought about 2 weeks back were still untouched. One had turned mouldy, and had to be thrown away immediately. I needed to salvage ('make something good') out of the 3 remaining lemons and fast is THE word. (no wastage allowed!)

Promptly, I did a quick check online and found Aunty Yochana's receipe on Lemon Yoghurt Muffin.
http://auntyyochana.blogspot.com/2007/06/lemon-yoghurt-muffins.html and incorporated some additions of the lemon zest and the glaze touches from another webpage.

Within an hour, I had 6 lemon yoghurt muffins, 3 with lemon glaze and the balance lemon juice into a small glass of lemonade. Pretty effortless but the warm muffins are moist and soft in texture and I had to quickly take a foto shoot of the remaining 4 muffins before its all gone.


Gula Melaka Fa Gao @ Prosperity Kuih

I've come across the making of this Gula Melaka (Ye Jiang Tang) Fa Gao in the blogsites of Jo's Deli, Aunty Peony's, Aunty Yochana. And today while browsing through Amy Beh's cooking book 3 which was borrowed from the community library, I decided that I had to try making it too.

Zooming into the steps, it seemed easy and it requires only basic ingredients. Oh yes, I am aware we are still couple of months to CNY, I thought I will start 'practising' on the goodies for Christmas and CNY, (some may say k.s. but I am a 'greenhorn' in the kitchen werkz, so gonna need more practice lah!). Hence, whenever I chance upon goodies receipes or when the craving 'tempts' the taste buds, but provided I happen to have the necessary ingredients at home, 'wonders' cook & bake in kitchen will kick start.

I have got some remainder chopped gula melaka in cling wrap 'sitting' in the fridge and this receipe just seemed right for my practise. I 'tweaked' the receipe abit by using canola oil instead of butter, used reduced amount of castor sugar in place of soft brown sugar, instead of using tea cups which is usually recommended, 6 small bowls were used instead.

The whole process of preparation sets off with the natural fragrance from dissolving gula melaka with pandan leaves, then once the coconut milk is added, the smell was sensational breathe in of goodness for the lungs, (my personal take on that. =p). An hour of waiting for the yeast to 'proof', the steaming in the mini tefal steamer. All in all, it took about 2 hours.

End product was 6 bowls of pale looking, gula melaka flavoured 'huat kueh' with only 2 ' fas'. Need to review on the steps again to get all to 'fa' for next making.

Nevertheless, the texture was moist, soft and just the right sweetness.


Banana Nut crunch cereal biscuit

Out of the blues yesterday, Mom made a passing remark that 'theres nothing in the fridge to munch'. In that instant, I laughed and replied teasingly, ' ya hor, my fault, no bakes.' Last weekend, I was engrossed in some other arrangements and had 'neglected' to bake 'goodies'. And as I did not 'stock up' ingredients, there was not much variety or assortments I could whip up and I was at loss initially at what to bake.

As I was browsing over the containers (sometimes the word is 'ransack' ), I realised I had small balance of banana nut crunch cereal and my sister recently commented that I had not baked home made biscuits for quite some time already (which is very true ever since i started to dwell more focus and curiosity in cakes baking and kuehs making ).

So, I dug out my photocopied receipe and decided to bake (somewhat a twig from the original receipe), my version of simple, rounded, banana nut crunch cereal homebaked freshness biscuits. Its a two in one strike. =D

It took me less than an 1 hour to make a small container of baked banana nut crunch cereals biscuits. My very own round, round, plain plain looking biscuits. Freshness delights.

Simply love the aroma of bakes in progress. Do you share the same sentiments ?


American Carrot Cake

Is this call impulse ? spontaneity ? craving ? whatever excuse I could think of. None better than, yes, I have done it! Yesterday evening, had this sudden desire(a better word?) to eat American Carrot Cake and I remember Aunty Yochana had a receipe on it and quickly browsed through the receipe steps and within minutes, you can visualise me busy in the kitchen, grating the carrots, chopping the walnuts, measuring the ingredients etc etc. Yes, the me in the kitchen in the very 'engaged' mode.

As usual, the 'sotong' me assumed that I had enough cake flour for the baking and only when I commenced on the weighing and measuring that I realised that there is slight shortfall. 'Should I re measure the rest of the ingredients?' I thought not. So, in the end, I had flour mixture of cake flour, self raising flour with abit of corn flour to sort of balance up, hopefully. Yeps, I was keeping my fingers crossed during the mixing.

And as I was going to follow the topping icing frosting layer exactly according to Aunty's receipe, I kinda reduced the sugar to the US carrot cake to only 150gm (half of the recommended sugar) instead so that the overall cake taste will not be too sweet. (coz theres a need to cut down on sugar intake for my Mom per se).

However, I was pretty generous with use of the cinnamon powder, instead of just 1.5tsp, I added in about 2.5tbsp. I love spice and herbs, both Chinese and Western. It sets off a natural, fragrant aroma that fills up the whole house and maybe my neighbour's as well. This is the link to Aunty's homemade goodness receipe for American carrot cake :

The preparation time was about 30 mins, baking time about 1 hour, cooling time 1 hour (room temperature), mixing of the cream cheese about 10 mins, spreading of the topping on the cooled carrot cake about 5 mins, into the fridge for the topping to settle about 3 hrs. (all manual labour, yepz, you know, whisking with all my might, shifting the flour, grating the carrot, blending and mixing... phew.... )
{of coz the baking and the frosting will be the oven and the fridge. =D)

The whole process of the baking was really worthwhile. My 'Americano' Carrot Cake was dome shaped, perhaps because of the cake flour with baking powder plus self raising flour with corn flour. Ill trained as I am, the frosting layer is not levelled, but i like the unlevelled 'look' coz it reminds me of the snow covered rocky mountains in NZ when I was there for holiday some years back.

Lets say I would give myself a pass rate for this moist, soft, crunchy walnuts, topped with lemonly taste cream cheese frosting. Lovely!

Thank you Aunty Yochana for the generous sharing and guidance.


Wife's Biscuits @ Lao Por Bing

Last week i visited Florence's blogpage during the daytime of 3 Oct and came across her latest bakes. Yes, its the popular Lao Por Bing of HK. Coincidentally, on same night, Aunty Yochana also loaded her wife's biscuits bakes in her blogpage. ' That does it,' i told myself. And very resourcefully started to search for the ingredients for the bakes the very next day and my 'desperation' (or kan cheong spirit rather)to the extent i even 'manjaing' to Aunty Yochana when the candied winter melon was not available in medical halls or even NTUC or even Cold Storage. Come to think of it, goodness me, so shy.

I managed to get the newly arrived candied winter melon last Sunday at Phoon Huat and got into the making and baking today. The process was not easy for me as i fumbled during the preparation getting confused over which shorterning weightage for which portion etc. Had a good laff at myself actually. After getting over that little huddle, the rest was easy. The rolling and wrapping was almost similar to that for the flaky mooncakes and the crispy moonies, of course with a slight twist. Check out the comprehensive steps to the receipe at Florence's blogpage at http://www.wlteef.blogspot.com/.

I simply love the aroma of the bakes and the crispy bite into the homemade freshness of my first batch of wife's biscuits. So pleased.

Thanks to Florence, the amazing lady from HK.


Brownies are a "hit"

This has to be Jes's (Hut Of Cranberry) fault. (blessing in disguise. bear with me. =D). Why ? Well, because she posted such lovely brownies topped with melted chocolate and colorful icing & designs specially made for her kids and the other children on children's day, 1 Oct. Totally temptinglicious! (yep, theres no such word in any given dictionary.)

I am not (or was not) a chocolate lover but with the lure of the lovely posted pictures of chocolate related receipes whipped up by Aunty Yochana and Jes, alright, gradually I am getting 'influenced' to love the look and 'magnetic draw' of chocolates.

As always, I thickheadedly 'pester' Jes for the receipe and from which the link to another lovely Mommy, Brenda. From which I learnt that she had sourced the receipe from http://allreceipes.com/ , I couldnt wait to bake the brownies. And on Friday, I 'charged' my way to Phoon Huat in Sembawang and bought the basic ingredients (though I had wanted to purchase other ingredients for other tempting bakes as well, but there aint any stock on the shelves).

The brownies were freshly baked yesterday as I was engaged in cooking up a new dish, "black vinegar chicken" for last Saturday's lunch. The receipe is from a cooking book which I borrowed from the Community Library. The chef is none other than the renowed Amy Beh, a household name in Malaysia for home cooked receipes. The dish turned out lovely with no picture taken to share. Nonetheless, only Mom and I savoured and enjoyed it most coz we both love the black vinegar spiced up with ginger soup. yums.

Alright, shant digress. I almost forgot to add sugar for the brownies during the making. By sheer chance, some of the mixture 'splattered' on my fingers during the mixing process, and when i was licking off from my finger that I realised that I forgot to add the sugar. So, you can imagine the 'panic' to blend the sugar in at almost the final blend and mix with my utmost effort and strength. Not exaggerating coz i was doing manual mixing using the wooden spoon and yes, theres a bubble on my right small finger. arh well.

Viola, it turned out tasting great ! Though the end product was just good old simple plain brownies with chopped walnuts, and though it does not have the 'professionally' levelled nicely look, the texture was cakey, moist and the aroma of the brownies at baking was welcoming amidst the humidity over the weekend. Its a thumbs up with my sisters and of course, with me too!

Thanks to Jes and Brenda for their joint sharing enabling me to whip up easy, home made brownies.


Sesame Seeds & Walnut Muffin

There are many baking receipes that I would love to try my hands on making and today, while rummaging through the cabinets, some remaining balance of self raising flour and cake flour. And so had to make do with whatever ingredients in the house as the supermarket seems so far away under such humidity. (yep, thats my excuse.)

I came across this lovely receipe on Sesame Seeds & Walnut Muffin from Aunty Yochana's blogsite and as usual, drooled over. Unshyly and thickheadedly, I loaded Aunty with queries and she patiently gave me tips. Hence, I decided to give it a shot.

During preparation stage, what caught my attention were words in bold print which read "wash before use" on my recently purchased black and white sesame seeds packs from NTUC. Hadnt seen those bold words before from the previous leftover pack. Well, the product is Made In China, so there had to be some valid, good reason(s) for the recommendation. So, 'clumsily and obediently', the black and white sesame seeds were rinsed and washed before roasted under slow fire in the fry pan. Simply love the aura of the roasting sesame seeds, popping and jumping in the fry pan, fragrance refreshing.

Followed the steps in Aunty Yochana's receipe http://auntyyochana.blogspot.com/2007/08/sesame-and-walnuts-cupcakes.html and viola, lovely muffins (instead of cupcakes) for me. Even my brother who is not a cake eater, munched one and half portions with compliments on its unique taste and fragrance.

Thumbs up for this receipe! Thanks to Aunty Yochana for sharing.


Mid Autumn Day's Makings

I am truly amazed and inspired into the wonderful baking creations of other talented ladies linked with Lee Lee, Florence and Jo. Its like a new-found world and hobby into the wonders and colors of baking and cooking arena. There are many other talented ladies out there! Theres Jes (hut of cranberry), Lucy(aunty yochana), Lily Wai and many more.

Mere surfing and visits to their daily blogs will simply take your breathe away with their cooking and baking passions and delights which also means that, you will be left drooling away, helplessly, literally spoken. And far beyond doubt, many will envy their immediate families and close friends who benefits from their give aways, well, in hope, soon that i could be one of the lucky receipient too. (teasing. =p)

And to catchup with their amazing talents, being an amateur, I follow ever so closely with their guiding steps to the makings of few new bakes and cooking for my family and they have been most encouraging, naturally.

On Mid Autumn's, i made my final batch of snow skin moonies. And thanks to the recommendation in the blogs of Jes, I managed to get a simple flower mould (the last of the last piece) from Ailin Bakery House with the help of the lady boss there. Though my intended purchase was something prettier, you know, like the ones Jes purchased, but just couldnt resist the mentality of "must get something" to make the trip worthwhile.

So tempted I was with the lure of the red wine berry paste from KCT posted in Jes's blog, I got a small pack from KCT and indeed, the taste was pleasing to the delight of my palate. Thanks Jes! Not forgetting, receipe with thanks from Aunty Yochana. =D

On Mom's suggestion, I went along with the idea to making sushi for dinner. Quite cool idea, as the sushi roll will be round round. Well, its the first time I am making sushi and yes, i fumbled here and there but the roll came out decent. No fancy japanese ingredients to go along as this was a 1st trial. Bought the basic stuff like sushi short rice, sushi vinegar seasoning, bamboo mat, bamboo spatula etc for the making. Once everything was ready, I rolled in cooked eggs, blanched carrot, cucumber and japanese pickled radish and that was my version of "futamaki", simplified version. "oishi" were compliments well received by me and boy, I was thrilled when the first roll came off quite pretty though theres room for improvement in the tightening of the rolls.

Theres plenty more to bake and cook and learn from the wonderful ladies. Me, an amateur, a follower will continue in looking out for more guidance in this new 'adventure'.


Spiral Yam Mooncakes

Was still in the mood to challenge myself to complete, well, basically, the common variations to making mooncakes based on the dialect groups. Personally, yearly, without fail, our family will purchase the teochew spiral yam mooncakes from Eater Palace. This year may not be an exception. Others may beg to differ in the choice but to each his own, i would rather not argue.

So i "ventured" into Jo's site http://www.jodelibakery.netfirms.com/ and followed as closely as i possibly in hope to achieve the pretty spiral yam mooncakes that she made. as this is my first attempt, at least 4 out of 8 had the proper pretty spiral look. if only i had observed closely during the making process to focus on the importance of placing the paste in the centre where the "dune" shaped likeness could be seen on the pastry as i was rolling the finale roll before adding the paste, that could have made the difference.
in addition, i would need to improve on my yam paste texture did not achieve the paste-like texture at all. a pat on my own shoulders, well, at least i tried. =D
based on my personal attempts so far, i would rate the level of difficulty as follows :
most difficult = traditional brown skinned moonies
challenging = snow skin moonies
not so difficult = spiral moonies
easiest = flaky moonies
what about you ?


Traditional brown skinned mini moonies

After 3 failed attempts in the making of the traditional brown skinned mooncakes, I must say I was really on the verge of giving up, you know, as in surrending white flag. Even my most supportive Mom was commenting about the wastage as in the hardened products were not edible and had to be thrown. The consolation was that the portions were small hence it was not huge wastage.

Then again, I have been told that baking brown skinned mooncakes are more challenging than making snow skin mooncakes. Not only on the baking timing, but also other areas like the kneading process etc. Then again, I was deep down curious to get to the root and find out what went wrong.

Last Saturday night, as I was browsing through the delightful, colorful pages of Florence latest blog pictures loaded with the wonderful creations of her baked and snow skin moonies, thick headedly I consulted her online about the hows and whats.

Florence is an amazing lady with great patience. View her blog page at http://www.wlteef.blogspot.com/ and you will be caught up in awe and amazement at her talents. And upon her advice, I picked up my broken pieces of shattered passion and followed her precise steps very closely.

And patiently, today being the 3rd day after the baking of the moonies. Yes, the texture turned out wonderful. Thanks Florence for your guidance!


Lotus Leaf Menus

By chance, i came across this interesting receipe from http://bakingmum.blogspot.com/2007/07/beggars-chicken.html giving the precise introduction to the making of beggar's chicken. Its a dish i have long heard of and on Tuesday evening for dinner, after having marinated the chicken from Monday.

It was interesting as it is not everyday that you will 'catch' my Mom unaware of any type of fresh produce marketing. Well, she hadnt any idea what lotus leaf looked like, whether dried or fresh etc. Neither do I. But she managed to get around that by asking her friends, and bought 3 dried lotus leaves sold by a medical hall in one of our neighbouring HDB shopping area for $2.

I did not have any picture taken of the baked Beggar's Chicken but it was a winner with my siblings & Mom indeed and its definately a unique receipe which retains the sweetness of the well marinated sauces, coupled with the aroma of from the baking & the wrapping with lotus leaves giving it a fragrance which sweetened the appetite.

And just last evening, I browsed through a cooking book which I borrowed from the Community Library and saw this receipe of Lotus Leaf wrapped rice and it was a instant "hit" in getting me to cook it.

Ingredients :

5 - 6 chinese black mushrooms (well soaked, softened & diced )

1 chinese sausage (soaked, plastic removed, neatly diced) (portion to your own preference)

{ instead of roasted, cooked chicken meat as recommended as we had chicken the nite before}

lotus seed (50g) (optional) (if its dried, soak it in warm water for 20 mins, use toothpick to remove the green colored bitter centre piece & boil for about 25 mins till cooked)

2 spring onions (washed & cut finely)

1 cup of cooked cooled steamed rice

1 lotus leaf (if dried, soften it thoroughly by submerging it in hot boiling water, drain & wipe dry for use)

2 kitchen strings

Sauces :

2 tbsp fish sauce

salt & pepper

3 tbsp of oil

Steps :

Stir fry mushrooms, lap chiong & lotus seed for about 3 mins adding salt & pepper to taste. Dish out into bowl.

With the remaining one tbsp of oil, stir fry rice with the spring onions adding 2 tbsp of fish sauce to taste.

Next add in the fried mushrooms, lap chiong & lotus seed & stir fry till evenly spread and mixed.

Dish out onto centre of lotus leaf, fold it neatly like a parcel, bind with kitchen strings & steam for about 10 mins for the fragrance of the lotus leaf to soak in.

Serve hot.

Tom Yam SeaFood Soup

For the longest time, I have been wanting to cook Tom Yam Soup at home but my family members were not "supportive" of the 'idea' back then. So, whenever my craving comes around, and if I am out shopping, I would hunt around and pop by a thai restaurant or kopi tiam which serves thai food and will order a bowl of 'must have' Tom Yam soup. Then again, you know, when the chefs are in the most generous mood, the extra lime juice will instantly change your facial expression and you will squirm with displeasure.

Recently, Mom came back from one of her usual "aunties" chit chat sessions and was sharing with us that one of the them suggested the intake of Tom Yam Soup which was good for the body. You know the aunties hearsay theory of Tom Yam for Thais, Kimchi for Koreans etc... the best of the authentics and origins, all the goodness etc.

So, on Monday, 10 September, I decided to cook Tom Yam Seafood Soup for dinner. Chose the Knorr's brand Tom Yam paste as recommended from a friend who advised me not to get the granules version as it will result in courser, sandy residue.

As this is my first attempt, I was not 'adventurous' in the cooking process. I played safe in using 1 litre Knorr's chicken broth, added lemon grass, ginger, onion, prawns, fish and 2 tbsps of Tom Yam paste with chinese parsley for garnishing. The result was a bowlful of hot, spicy Tom Yam Seafood Soup which warmed up the body with the very first sip, sending the chill away. However, I had to fine tune the spicyness down abit with a tbsp of sugar as my youngest sister was not into hot & spicy food. Mom had two bowls of the soup instead of her usual of just a bowl of soup. And most of my siblings & of course myself loved the soup too.

Cooking has indeed been made easier with these instant paste & sauces. Everyone can learn to cook, its just a matter of trying.


Steamed Tapoica Kueh

The last time when I attempted to try the baked tapoica kueh (also known as kuih bingkat ubi or cassava kueh) a month ago, the feedback i got from my family members then was that the texture looked oily and tasted heavy (i.e sinful indulgence) with generous loading of coconut milk.

When my craving came around again over the week, I asked my Mom to "look out" and buy tapoica from the wet market when she does come across it. Seems that tapoica is not widely or commonly supplied. And yesterday Mom managed to get 2 pieces of tapoica weighing about 600g. Straight after lunch, I geared myself to process and prepare the steaming of the kueh.

Grating the tapoica was taxing and a test of manual endurance especially the arm strength. Hence, cuts on the hands by the grater was part of the process. Following Florence's self tried and tested receipe, I had a plateful of delightful, pandan flavoured, reduced coconut milk, steamed tapoica kueh which passed the tastebuds of my Mom. Time well spent and yummy kueh which is a preferred kueh for tea. Yes, I am beaming with delight.


Carrot & Orange muffin

With so many receipes galore on the variations on the making of assorted muffins, i decided to try my hands on baking homemade muffins as well. I came across a receipe from a cooking book borrowed from the community library which features mostly collections of dishes focussed on healthy living, healthy cooking, which means low carb, low fat and high fibre.

The simple steps of this carrot & orange muffin caught my eye. This is my 2nd attempt at the making and the muffins turned out lovely indeed. In fact, carrot & orange as blended juice are already a "hit" with many as the combi of both contents are high in fibre and Vitamin C. A delightful indulgence without feeling sinful and 'fuss free'.

Ingredients :

150g self raising flour

75g sugar

100g semi skimmed milk ( i used meiji low fat fresh milk instead )

zest & juice of one orange

125g coarsely grated carrot

2 eggs (lightly beaten)

2 tbsp corn oil

1/2 tsp baking flour


Shift flour, baking powder, grated carrot, orange zest & sugar into a mixing bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

Mix milk, sugar, orange juice, oil till well blended.

Make hole in the centre of the flour bowl and pour in liquids and mix till well blended.

Pour into muffin cups and place in well greased muffin tins.

Bake in preheat oven of 200 degrees for about 20mins.


Flaky Moon cakes

Attempted making the traditional brown skin mooncakes last night. And due to my over sight, the baking time was stretched and I ended up with a tray of "tough cookie" exterior with the paste instead. Pretty disappointed at the 1st trial failure.

Undeterred, i browsed more blogs this morning for inspiration from a few home made chefs and decided to give the making of flaky mooncakes a try instead.
Though the steps seemed easy at a glance, the actual practical hands on was not so. Perhaps I had been too forceful in rolling the water & oil dough together that the 1st ball became dry initially. From thence, I took care to apply gentle, patient moves to roll the dough and managed to salvage the final product.

After about 2 1/2 hours, there were 9 loose flaky pastry with the lotus seed paste topped with white sesame seeds.
This being my 1st attempt, I am pleased at the end product with the texture looking pretty indeed and edible flaky pastry. I had followed the receipe very closely from Jo's Deli & bakery. ( Thanks for sharing the receipe !)

Well, at least now I am a step closer to knowing how my favourite "dou sa ping" can be made using the same method.


Snow Skin Mini Mooncakes

With half pack of green tea paste still "sitting" in the fridge compartment, undue "pressure" caught on me to "clear" it soon and very soon. And somehow with the Mooncake festival around the corner, well, next month actually, I pondered on the possibility of making snow skin mooncakes.

Rather than relying on cooking classes from various biz opportunists, offering to teach at $40 per session with few varieties to be learnt over a 3 hours period, lets give the online blogs receipes a try, that was my thinking then.

After spending countless hours drooling and viewing through the varies methods of making the snow skin, I came across the following receipe and the product turned out decent and edible.

Ingredients :

200g kor fun (gao fen in chinese) shifted

70 g shortening

150 g icing sugar

210 ml ice cold water

1/2 tsp apple green coloring

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

the balance green tea paste

Steps :

1. Sift gao fen & icing sugar into large mixing bowl.

2. Make a well in the centre, add shortening and essence to mix.

3. Pour in cold water, and hand knead to soft smooth dough.

4. Add coloring to mix and pinch out dough of 25 g each with 30g of filling aside.

5. Roll out each dough to thin circle large enough to wrap the ball filling. (Do this between 2 sheets of plastic wrap)

6. Press the wrapped up dough into the wooden mini mooncake moulds that has been lightly dusted with gao fen.

7. Knock mooncakes out and store in airtight containers in fridge.

8. Best consumed freshness within 3 days from the making.

Notes :

a. the above portions makes for more than 24 mini mooncakes. so adjust the ingredients accordingly.

b. you can replace other flavoured paste to your liking; and some even recommended adding green tea powder for the snowskin to enhance the green tea paste.

Steamed Glutinous Rice with Chicken

Chanced upon this recipe from an Asian cooking book borrowed from the Community Library. No picture taken as it was consumed readily once it was ready for consumption from the electric steamer. Pretty effortless.

Rice ingredients :
600g Glutinous Rice
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp oil
1 cup of water
salt & pepper to taste

Filling : 8 pieces of chicken meat
8 pearl clam
8 slices of Chinese sausages
8 cooked black mushroom
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cornflour
salt & pepper to taste

1. Rinse and soak glutinous rice in water for at least 3 hours.

2. Drain and marinate the rice with the rice ingredients for 30 mins.

3. Mix filling ingredients in greased bowl. Pour rice on top.

4. Put boil into steamer & steam until rice is cooked.


the above are the exact receipe steps from the book but for myself, i made the following adjustments.

a. i did not have pearl clams in the fillings.

b. the fillings were mixed together & kept in fridge while the glutinous rice was being soaked.

c. the excess marinate /water mix from the glutinous rice were not wasted and can be poured into the greased bowl for the fuller flavouring & taste.

d. the portions of the fillings can be adjusted according to preference.